Candidates in the upcoming provincial election are calling on the province to release the needs assessment for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
An updated needs assessment overview specifically on cardiac care was released last fall that supported enhancing cardiac services, including cardiac catheterization.
But an updated assessment of the entire hospital is long overdue, candidates agree.
Paul Hardy, Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer-North, said the assessment on the entire hospital was in the hands of the province last fall. He fears it will never be released publicly.
“We’ve seen study after study put on the shelf and ignored and we don’t want the recent cardiac study and the updated needs assessment to be shelved. We believe they must be publicly shared and acted upon,” said Hardy, a Red Deer doctor.
He said it’s difficult for other parties running in the provincial election to know exactly what is needed, without this study.
Doctors, including Hardy, have been vocal for a few years about the lack of beds and hospital services, including a cardiac catheterization laboratory to treat blocked arteries.
A Red Deer hospital needs assessment, released December 2015, showed the hospital was short 96 beds, three operating rooms, and 18 emergency room treatment stretchers. Two dedicated obstetrical operating rooms have since opened.
Within 10 years that gap grows to 194 beds, seven operating rooms, and 33 emergency room treatment/observation stretchers.
A few weeks ago Premier Rachel Notley told the Advocate that her government “will be moving ahead to continue funding for a major hospital redevelopment…”
Hardy said the NDP government needs to be more specific and assure central Alberta that expansion will actually happen.
“We need to see shovels in the ground before we believe it.”
Expansion of Red Deer hospital was put back on Alberta Health Services multi-year health facility infrastructure capital submission list last fall after the project was taken off the infrastructure list in 2017.
Adriana LaGrange, UPC candidate for Red Deer-North, said Red Deer’s hospital has been relegated to the sidelines for way too long.
“Red Deer urgently needs to have its needs addressed,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said people are anxious to see the updated hospital needs assessment which likely shows things have gotten even worse at the hospital and it’s disconcerting that expansion of the Red Deer hospital was taken off the capital plan.
“I’m not sure that people believe that all of a sudden we’re going to be back on the plan, that the government will follow through with what they announced recently,” LaGrange said.
Red Deer-North MLA Kim Schreiner said she has spoken with the premier who told her that the expansion will respond to the needs assessment and will meet the needs of Red Deer.
“Our government is committed to seeing this Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion through and that there is more planning to be done. This government will include the necessary funding for the proposal in our next capital plan for sure,” Schreiner said.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the last three and a half of years and there’s a lot more work to be done, including significant planning, design, construction. These large scale capital projects take time, but I can assure you our premier has taken a huge step forward to bringing this project to fruition.”
Schreiner said she has not seen the needs assessment and does not believe it is ready yet.