The business case, or the first stage of the $100-million expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, is now complete. (Contributed photo)

The business case, or the first stage of the $100-million expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, is now complete. (Contributed photo)

Progress on proposal to expand Red Deer hospital welcome news

First stage of preparation complete

Red Deer’s health care woes are closer to being solved now that the business case to expand Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is complete.

This week in the Legislature, Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan announced that the business case, which was the first stage of the $100-million expansion project, was now complete.

The next stage is planning and design, followed by construction and renovation.

“It’s great news for Red Deer and it’s certainly great news for central Alberta,” Mayor Ken Johnston said.

“It’s not the time to take our foot off the pedal. We’ll still advocate on the hospital file, but it appears to me — dare to dream — that we could have shovels in the ground by summer time. That would be just fantastic.”

He said he never doubted Premier Jason Kenney’s commitment, but it’s great that there are now some legs beneath the promise to expand the regional hospital. Capacity and service challenges at the hospital have only gotten worse over the years.

He thanked Alberta Health Services for finishing the business case during the pandemic, and local MLAs, doctors, and the public who advocated for the project.

“I just want to thank everyone in Red Deer who signed a petition, who came out to a public meeting, who emailed, who got involved in this issue,” Johnston said.

Related:

Red Deer hospital expansion preparations advance to next stage

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Wolstenholme said having the business case done means the behind-the-scenes work has mostly been completed and hopefully funding is on the way to actually deliver on what is included in the business case.

“At every turn we’ve heard unless you have a business case then you can’t get to the next step,” Wolstenholme said.

He said he has not seen the business case, but feedback from local doctors was sought and presumably it will include what the hospital needs.

Hopefully there will be a “big chunk of money” designated to the hospital’s expansion in the province’s spring budget, he said.

“The $100 million announced previously is a huge amount of money, but that won’t even come close to what we need. “

The province said that the project is just the first phase of improvements for the facility.

“It’s been a very slow process to finally get to this point. But I guess any step in the right direction is a good step,” Wolstenholme said.

Related:

Kenney pledges $100M toward Red Deer hospital improvements

A needs assessment, released December 2015, showed Red Deer’s hospital was already short 96 beds, three operating rooms, and 18 emergency room treatment stretchers. In 10 years that gap was anticipated to grow to 194 beds, seven operating rooms, and 33 emergency room treatment/observation stretchers.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre