Central Alberta health facilities need more than $100 million in maintenance work, the Alberta Liberals say provincial documents show.
The deferred Alberta Health Services maintenance in the Central Zone includes more than $23 million in work needed at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. Raj Sherman called it “neglect on a massive scale.” And former party leader and current health critic David Swann said that poor infrastructure leads to poor patient outcomes.
Overall in Alberta, the opposition Liberals said the deficit for health facility maintenance is $637 million. The Liberals obtained the documents detailing the maintenance deficit under freedom of information rules.
The Liberals say the deferred maintenance project list includes those originally planned to be implemented prior to 2013-14.
A total of $23,836,292 in maintenance was deferred at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, as well as $179,632 for the Red Deer Nursing Home.
Parker Hogan, press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale, said Alberta Infrastructure needs to book things as they go through their lifecycle. Often deferred maintenance can refer to projects that aren’t immediately necessary, but are kept on the books to keep track of their age and replacement cost.
“If there’s a boiler or furnace and when it gets installed it is a 20-year furnace, we need to book starting at the end of that 20th year the replacement cost of putting in a new furnace,” said Hogan.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean the furnace needs to be replaced, but we start to identify that it’s coming.”
Red Deer hospital’s last infrastructure review was in 2011, when it was part of the David Thompson Health Region. It is due for its next review in 2016.
Some items listed as needing attention before the next review include: new fluorescent light tubes, $2.8 million; new vinyl flooring, $2.3 million; and exhaust fans, $1.5 million.
A study was also included in the list to survey asbestos-containing materials. It would cost $7,500 for an asbestos survey and $3,500 to implement a management plan.
According to the 2011 review, “No known or reported asbestos survey has been completed for the building. Given the construction date of the building, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be present. Asbestos study may have been completed during the 2006 redevelopment; however, the whereabouts and contents of such a study were unknown.”
One of the largest items scheduled for its lifetime replacement in the 2011 review of the Red Deer hospital is the steam heating boilers and accessories, costing $9,290,000 and due to be replaced in 2015. It is not on the schedule for 2014-15 approved maintenance.
Projects underway include lab distilled water replacement, $59,652; boiler water treatment system replacement, $384,959; endoscopy reverse osmosis water supply scope, $11,421; elevator power and control replacement, $1.077 million; and emergency transfer switch replacement, $360,000.
Hogan said deferred maintenance accounts for about three per cent of the total value of Alberta’s health assets.
“If there is a situation or condition in a facility that the health and safety of patients, visitors or staff is compromised or the operation of the facility is compromised, those immediately go to the top of the list, they get fixed,” said Hogan.
Sherman’s solution is to take $1 billion a year in new health transfer payments from the federal government and catch up on the infrastructure work.
“If they don’t, there are going to be many more facilities in a similar state as Misericordia,” said Sherman, referencing the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton that flooded on July 5, cancelling surgeries and temporarily shutting down the facility.