Lives continue to be at stake with the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre expansion project expected to take a number of years to complete, says a founding member of the Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta.
“If we do not have the health care here in Central Alberta to safely deliver care to the community, that is a problem,” said Dr. Kym Jim, an internal medicine specialist at the Red Deer hospital.
SHECA hosted a rally to push for the urgent redevelopment of the hospital in City Hall Park on Saturday – about 100 Central Albertans attended the event.
A $1.8-billion expansion project just entered the design phase, with construction expected to begin around 2027-28 and be complete by 2030-31. The Alberta NDP said earlier this week, shovels would be in the ground no later than 2024.
SHECA is calling for construction to be sped up and a comprehensive plan to detail how the hospital can function while the expansion project is underway.
“The Red Deer Regional Hospital needs a task force and transition plan to get us through to when this project will be done,” he said.
“There’s been a failure of Alberta’s health-care system and successive governments to get us to where we are today.”
Jim said there needs to be an evaluation of the decision-making and evaluation processes that allowed this to happen.
“There’s been more done in the last six months than in 10 years to improve some things at the hospital, but we are far from fixed. These things have been done far too piecemeal and they should’ve been done a decade ago. The errors that led to this not happening a decade ago to get us into the mess we’re in today need to be evaluated,” he said.
SHECA is also calling for individuals to be appointed to provide quarterly updates as the project moves along.
Mayor Ken Johnston praised members of SHECA as well as the staff at the Red Deer hospital during Saturday’s rally.
“If you and I fall today, these are the people that will pick us up. Their voices need to be heard and deserve to be heard,” Johnston said to the crowd.
“It’s important today, it is vital today, that the voice of Central Alberta’s medical community, the caregivers of this city, the caregivers of Central Alberta, have a voice.”