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Public health care rally set for Saturday in Red Deer

Red Deer surgery patients diverted to other hospitals
Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has recently had to surgery patients to other hospitals. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Albertans will gather at public health care rallies in five cities on Saturday, including Red Deer, where surgery patients were diverted from Red Deer’s hospital this week.

As of Monday, 27 general surgery patients had been diverted out of the Alberta Health Services Central Zone since the temporary diversion began on April 29 at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre due to a lack of staff and other issues.

The Red Deer rally will be held at City Hall at 1 p.m.

The rallies, organized by United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) and other organizations, come at the tail end of International Nurses Week.

UNA president Heather Smith said just last month the UCP showed its support for private health care by announcing that more publicly funded eye surgeries will be performed at private clinics.

“There are lots of people in Red Deer and surrounding area that will still recall the proposed Third Way,” Smith said about former Premier Ralph Klein’s proposed plan to increase private health care in Alberta.

“Albertans said no that’s not a road we want to travel and yet here we are to having to raise and defend public health care again.”


Surgery patients continue to be diverted from Red Deer hospital

She said research has shown privatization is not the way to deal with shortcomings in the public system.

“You have to invest and support and expand your public health care system. Private health care is not the solution.”

She said there were indications prior to COVID-19 that there was incredible stress on the system and now hospitals in Red Deer and elsewhere face serious capacity issues. Nurses Week is a time to celebrate the dedication and sacrifices health care workers have been making.

“We’ve answered the call. Now we need government to answer our call for serious steps towards improving the deficits we have in health human resources,” Smith said.


UPDATE: ‘Enough is enough’: NDP call on UCP to address challenges at Red Deer hospital

Paramedic DJ McMillan, a Health Sciences Association of Alberta board member representing central Alberta, said it’s time for Albertans to stand up and defend their public health care system.

“As a frontline paramedic, I can see how hard everybody in the health care system is working, especially under the conditions with the pandemic and opioid crisis,” McMillan said.

He said paramedics have been transferring Red Deer surgery patients to other hospitals, and diverting patients away from Red Deer, while dealing under staffing and a massive increase in EMS calls.

“If you underfund the public health care system you’re setting it up to fail, and that’s what we’re starting to see here.”

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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