Manon Therriault, CEO of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation. (Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff).

Hopes are high a Red Deer hospital expansion is in 2019 provincial budget

Red Deer health foundation is prepared to help with fundraising

Growing awareness about Red Deer hospital’s shortcomings means central Alberta’s health care needs will be harder to ignore this time around, says a local doctor.

Dr. Kym Jim is happy to see the Red Deer hospital expansion back on Alberta Health Services’ priority list after it was dropped from the queue a few years ago.

“There’s now a huge amount more awareness, from citizens to the medical community — and also a huge amount of awareness at AHS and at the government level,” says Jim.

How the hospital expansion could have disappeared from the list remains “a mystery to me,” the physician added. Advocates have been pushing to improve health services at the facility for the past decade.

But Jim is optimistic that being returned to the list is a “positive… People feel very good that their concerns have been heard, that people are now realizing there are major issues with the health-care delivery in central Alberta.”

His group, the Society for Fair and Transparent Health Care Funding for Central Alberta, plans to “keep the pressure on” for dedicated funding for the hospital expansion in the 2019 provincial budget.

Being back on the list is no guarantee hospital project will get funding

Jim said several new initiatives, now in the planning stages, will be revealed within a few weeks.

“Elated” is how staff at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation are feeling about the Red Deer hospital expansion being back on the AHS priority list.

“This is exciting news,” said foundation CEO Manon Therriault. “We have been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Having better care for heart patients, through a new cardiac catheterization lab, is particularly important to central Albertans, said Therriault.

“But we’re hoping for the full redevelopment of the hospital … a full expansion of services for residents of Red Deer and the rural communities.”

The foundation’s board chair, Robert Bilton, believes last week’s announcement is a sign that critical local health care service improvements are a step closer.

Once the health care foundation hears that the hospital expansion is approved, it’s prepared to help by launching a capital campaign fundraiser, said Therriault.

The group recently raised $1.1 million for hospital equipment with the 2018 Festival of Trees event at Westerner Park.

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