Red Deer gained nearly eight per cent more doctors by the end of 2022, which Alberta Health says is one of the largest gains in Alberta.
According to a quarterly report from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, Red Deer had 321 doctors as of the fourth quarter of 2022 — which is up 23 doctors from the 298 physicians that practised in the city during the same period in 2021.
“Of course, we still need more doctors in Red Deer and across the province, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Alberta Health spokesperson Steve Buick.
According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ Summary of Changes in Physician Resources Report, Red Deer had a 7.7 per cent increase in doctors when comparing the last quarter of 2021 to the same period in 2022. Only Camrose and Brooks drew proportionally more doctors out of 18 named Alberta municipalities.
Alberta Health Services reports four new physicians have been hired for the Red Deer hospital emergency room in a new mentoring role, and clinical and physician assistants are also now being recruited to support physicians.
Red Deer hospital also had success in recruiting seven full-time anesthesiologists. One is currently practicing in the city and three more are expected to arrive in February, said Kerry Williamson, executive director of issues management for Alberta Health Services in an email.
He added nursing vacancies have been posted and recruitment is in various stages of progress. “Efforts to increase the relief RN support pool are ongoing. As many of our staff choose to work part-time, we offer additional shifts and overtime to fill shifts each day. We also meet regularly with our union partners to work on strategies to address capacity challenges and patient flow.”
Williamson acknowledged major acute care hospitals continue to be very busy across Alberta, with increased patient volumes “and Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is no exception.”
Despite capacity pressures, Red Deer hospital is not cancelling or postponing surgeries at this time. Williamson said, “both emergency and scheduled cases continue to be seen as quickly as possible.”
In 2022, eight new spaces were added to the Intensive Care Unit, bringing the capacity to 20 beds.