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Red Deer hospital expansion not a priority for UCP, says NDP

‘Adriana LaGrange and the UCP have betrayed the people of Red Deer – again’
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Alberta NDP say the expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre should have been included in Health Minister Adriana LaGrange’s mandate letter from Premier Danielle Smith. (File photo by Advocate staff)

The Alberta NDP want to know why the UCP government has quietly dropped the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre redevelopment from Health Minister Adriana LaGrange’s priorities.

In the health minister’s mandate letter released Tuesday, Premier Danielle Smith assigned LaGrange 25 specific tasks, including bringing more obstetricians to Lethbridge and Fort McMurray. But there was no mention of expanding Red Deer Regional Hospital, or addressing the hospital’s current staffing crisis, the NDP said.

“Adriana LaGrange and the UCP have betrayed the people of Red Deer – again. It’s right there in black and white: Danielle Smith and the UCP don’t give a hoot about the Red Deer hospital,” said Luanne Metz, Alberta NDP critic for health (emergency and surgical care) in a statement.

“It’s truly shocking that the premier did not instruct the health minister to drive this work forward, especially when there are dozens of other projects she assigned.”

Related:

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange hopes to move quicker on building towers for Red Deer hospital expansion

In February of 2020, LaGrange and Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan joined then-Premier Jason Kenney to promise construction would start in 2021. More than three years later, no work has started, and leaked government documents indicate the UCP is considering a scaled-down redevelopment, the NDP said.

On Tuesday, LaGrange told the Advocate that transition planning for the hospital’s expansion was already underway, and she still hoped that construction can be expedited.

The Red Deer-North MLA also revealed that two new towers will be part of the hospital project — an ambulatory care tower for out-patient programs and services which was part of the original plan, and a new, separate, in-patient tower instead of adding on top of the cancer centre.

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Central Albertans rally for Red Deer hospital

The NDP said the current hospital is also plagued by staffing shortages, with ER wait times spiking to more than 11 hours on Tuesday night.

Metz told the Advocate that people should be worried that long waits for care will continue. Central Albertans deserve answers, and so do doctors who have spoken out about problems at the hospital.

She said doctors should not carry the burden of calling out LaGrange and Smith and the UCP.

“Their job is to look after patients and they’re doing that in an amazing way with horrible resources,” Metz said.



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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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