Red Deer doctors take next step to advocate for fair health care funding for Central Albertans. (File photo by Advocate staff)

UPDATED: Red Deer doctors form non-profit to advocate for health-care dollars

A year in the making

Red Deer doctors have created a non-profit society to advocate for fair health-care funding for Central Albertans.

Doctors said the Society for Fair and Transparent Health Funding to Central Alberta has been under development since Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre was dropped from the provincial infrastructure priority list in late 2016 with little explanation from either Alberta Health Services or the province.

“Due to a lack of health infrastructure investment in our region dating back many years, Red Deer is in dire need of capital spending to expand the Red Deer Regional Hospital in order to provide care to the over 400,000 people who live in Central Alberta,” said Dr. Kym Jim, one of the society’s five founders.

“We don’t blame current government or Alberta Health Services leaders for our current predicament, but they do have the urgent obligation to fix it.”

He said citizens should not have to travel outside Central Alberta for medical care when it can be safely and reasonably delivered close to home.

“We want decision makers to be fully aware that they are being watched and that Central Albertans deserve their tax dollars to be invested locally based on fair and transparent processes,” Jim said.

The society was also created to educate Central Albertans, the medical profession, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and the province about the medical needs of Central Albertans and the extent those needs are not being met in Central Alberta; and the extent to which Central Alberta is underfunded in comparison to other areas of Alberta.

Other founding members include Dr. Paul Hardy, Dr. Keith Wolstenholme, Dr. Alan Poole, and Dr. Cinzia Gaudelli.

Hardy said they are not aware of any other similar non-profit, non-partisan societies in Canada, but it likely will not be the last.

“We don’t have an ideology other than fairness and transparency,” Hardy said.

He said taking the step to develop the society shows government, AHS and the public that this is a serious, long-term commitment.

“The society is interested and involved and we’ll keep tabs on where dollars are being spent and advocate for projects such as the Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion. We’re ready for the long haul.”

He said it’s almost been one year since doctors hosted their first, big public meeting that attracted hundreds of people, and they are anxious to see what the provincial budget contains.

Doctors are seeking community members to sit with them on the society’s board of directors. A public meeting is set for March 6 at 7 p.m. at Baymont Inn & Suites.

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