A Red Deer orthopedic surgeon says 30 trauma patients needed immediate, emergency surgery on Thursday, but some of them will be waiting for days.
On Monday at 12:37 p.m., Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre put overcapacity Level 3 protocols into action, which include transferring patients to other facilities, and stayed at that level until 3:43 p.m. on Wednesday, when it dropped to Level 2, where it remained Thursday.
“We see occasionally these episodes when it’s this busy. It’s fair to say it’s one of the worst when you have 30 people waiting for immediate fracture surgery,” said Dr. Bryce Henderson.
“It means most of them don’t get done today, or tomorrow. They’re going to wait three, four, five days.”
And when patients with catastrophic injuries such as a broken hip must wait, the greater the chance of blood clots, pneumonia and other complications, and the longer they require hospital care, he said.
“We do see higher complications as a result of people waiting. It’s increased morbidity and mortality and complications, just because of the waiting.”
He said the need to address access to surgery was identified at least five years ago.
“We’re so far past that now, so we don’t need an increase, we need to double or triple capacity now. It’s not just a little busy. This a gross under capacity of our surgical facilities in the zone and at this hospital,” Henderson said.
He said hospital administration is doing their best, but the problems were created higher up in the administration hierarchy.
Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda was in the city Tuesday and toured Red Deer hospital while the facility was scrambling to find beds.
NDP health critic David Shepherd said he hoped the minister recognized the need to expand capacity at the hospital.
“Our government was well aware of the need for a new hospital in Red Deer. This makes it clear that the need is still there and, in fact, is growing,” Shepherd said.
He said the NDP understood that need and that’s why some planning dollars were provided to move toward the construction of a new facility. The United Conservative Party government has not invested any more toward planning and has not shown any indication that it will expand hospital care in Red Deer, said Shepherd.
“This government was able to very quickly find $4.7 billion to give away to profitable corporations, but they can’t seem to find even just a few million dollars to be able to do essential planning to start the process for a badly needed hospital in Red Deer. I think that speaks to their priorities,” Shepherd said.
Mayor Tara Veer said she met briefly with Panda on Tuesday to discuss Red Deer’s general infrastructure needs, and the hospital in particular.
“(The province) hasn’t given us any specific commitments from a budget perspective, however, they have said in principle, they are acutely aware of the critical needs at the Red Deer Regional Hospital and that they hope to come up with a phased approach to address the needs,” Veer said.
“Even if they have to phase it, we have to get moving on the project, because it is such a substantial project with various components to it.”
Veer said she toured the hospital with Health Minister Tyler Shandro in late August.