The battle to get better care for heart attack victims in Central Alberta landed on the doorstep of Health Minister Sarah Hoffman on Tuesday.
Red Deer Regional Health Foundation and health representatives met with Hoffman in Edmonton to discuss the need for a cardiac catheterization lab at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
About 10 days ago when local doctors made their concerns public, Hoffman said she would not commit to a cardiac catheterization lab anytime soon for Red Deer.
Iaian Park, Red Deer Regional Health Foundation executive director, said everyone who went to Tuesday’s 45-minute meeting felt it was very positive and that her office would respond with a statement in a few weeks.
“We weren’t expecting a yes or no answer yesterday,” Park said on Wednesday.
“But we definitely wanted to meet the minister and tell her where we’re coming from. We wanted to let her know this wasn’t just somebody that thought this up and came forward with a donation to do it. But there was actually a history that showed there was a need and the great citizens of Red Deer stepped up and said we’ll provide some funding to meet that need,” said Park who attended the meeting.
Local philanthropists Joan and Jack Donald have offered a $5-million and the foundation can provide another $5 million towards capital costs for the lab.
On. Oct. 23, Red Deer doctors launched the Facebook page — Central Alberta Needs Cardiac Catheterization.
Central Alberta heart attack victims are currently given medications that break down clots — considered an inferior treatment — before they are transferred to Calgary or Edmonton by ground or air ambulance for cardiac catheterization.
Cardiac catheterization involves inserting a catheter into the heart and opening up blockages with a balloon. In most cases a stent is then inserted to keep the valve open.
Red Deer doctors say a lab would save about 30 lives a year, as well as save money.
Park said a petition calling for the lab could be available soon. In the meantime, people can contact their local MLA to express concerns or send a letter to the Health Minister.
“Until we hear an answer one way or the other, we want to keep it top of mind and moving forward so that it remains in the top priorities for the minister,” Park said.
In a statement to the Advocate, Hoffman said the meeting was a chance to hear first-hand the foundation’s views about the pressures facing frontline workers and patients in Red Deer.
“I believe we have a mutual understanding that any improvements in Red Deer need to be made with a view of the province-wide cardiac system, and that the issues facing Red Deer are a priority,” Hoffman said.
“We will continue to work with AHS, the health ministry and the foundation to improve cardiac services in the Central Zone. This will include ongoing discussions between my office and the foundation, and between Red Deer physicians and Alberta Health’s senior provincial medical advisor.”