Hospital expansion on city council’s agenda

Red Deer looking at quality of life for residents

City council is looking at formally advocating for hospital expansion in Red Deer.

Coun. Ken Johnston introduced a notice of motion on Monday to advocate for the urgent need for more beds and services at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on behalf of residents. The motion will be brought back for discussion by council on July 10.

Last fall local doctors made public their concerns 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. Other needed services have also been identified, and doctors have continued to speak out.

The motion recommends council advocate to the province regarding the urgent infrastructure needs of the Red Deer hospital, and 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.

“It’s important for the city to be able to add their voice to a very concerned and dedicated, passionate group of physicians who came out in October and sounded the alarm bells.” Johnston said.

‘The Municipal Government Act actually empowers cities to speak on behalf of their citizens if quality of life is impaired. In this particular case, the lack of capital funding and state of the regional hospital here in Red Deer is a direct detriment to the quality of life here in Red Deer, and not just Red Deer, but the surrounding zone that’s around us.”

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.

“These are at or beyond capacity here in Red Deer and they need to be addressed. We were fourth on the capital plan. Now we find ourselves not even on a capital plan. So we have to react as a city and certainly as a councillor and spokesperson for people in the city,” Johnston said.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city has advocated for provincial projects in the past, including the Justice Centre that recently received provincial funding.

“It’s become very clear over the last year in particular, that our community has higher expectations for the infrastructure and service capacity expansion at Red Deer Regional Hospital, both Red Deerians and the region.”

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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