City council stands up for health care

Urgent infrastructure and program needs at Red Deer hospital

City council has officially added its voice to the fight for hospital expansion in Red Deer.

On Monday council voted unanimously in favour of advocating for the urgent need for more beds and services at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on behalf of residents.

The motion brought forward by Coun. Ken Johnston recommended that the province be urged to consider reinstating the hospital to its capital priorities list as identified in the 2015 Capital Submission to ensure timely and accessible health services to Central Alberta.

“Red Deer Regional Hospital is now the fourth busiest hospital in our province, ranking ahead of the Rockyview and Peter Lougheed hospitals in Calgary, the Grey Nuns and Misericordia in Edmonton,” Johnston said.

“It currently does twice the volume twice of the QEII Hospital in Grande Prairie and the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, and it does over three times the volume of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.”

A 2015 needs assessment of Red Deer hospital showed programs operating either at or beyond capacity in Alberta Health Services Central Zone included: emergency services, maternal child services, addiction and mental health services, interventional and procedural services, and more.

Last fall local doctors sounded the alarm about Red Deer’s higher rate of death or disability compared to Calgary or Edmonton due to the lack of a local cardiac catheterization laboratory.

“Please province of Alberta, please province of Alberta do the right thing. These statistics were not invented. This isn’t made up,” Johnston said.

Council also passed Coun. Buck Buchanan’s recommendation that the city take the issue to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association in November.

Johnston said he looks forward to bringing the issue to the floor of AUMA because the facts support Red Deer’s argument.

“We need, if we have to, to stand toe to toe with any region in this province and say given our case loads and strain we deserve it,” Johnston said.

Dr. Kym Jim, one of the Red Deer doctors who have spoken out, said doctors were very pleased with council’s motion.

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