Efforts to expand Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can now progress to the planning and design stage.
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.
Stephan said Red Deerians have been waiting a long time for the project to advance to the next stage.
“Now that this critical, important step is done I want to see great action and progress, and I think that’s the expectation of families and individuals throughout central Alberta,” Stephan told the Advocate about the update he received late last week from Alberta Health Services.
According to previous statement from Alberta Health, the business case was to include a complete review of all components of the hospital and how best to redevelop the facility. Decisions were to be made on how many operating rooms will be needed and where they will be located in the hospital, how many inpatient hospital beds are required and which programs or departments they will be assigned to, and details about other acute care programs like a cardiac catheterization lab, and an expanded medical device reprocessing department.
In February 2020, Premier Jason Kenney announced $100 million toward improvements at hospital as part of the first phase of improvements to the facility.
Construction and renovation, which is stage three, was originally set to start in 2021.
Stephan said the principle of fairness dictates that people living in central Alberta should not be profoundly disadvantaged when it comes to health care services. While some specialty services can’t be offered everywhere, there is significant room for improvement in Red Deer when it comes to the scope of services available.
“Having the infrastructure (in Red Deer) allows us to do that.”
He said the government has the opportunity to make a “very profound course correction.”
“I’m very optimistic we will see some very significant beneficial progress on this really important community need.”
About five years ago, several doctors went public with service and infrastructure shortcomings impacting patient care at the hospital, and specifically identified the need for cardiac cath services. The community and region rallied to support the doctors and called on the province to expand the hospital.
A July 2020 infrastructure report found Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre was not meeting AHS performance targets for emergency room wait times, length of stay, and had longer wait times for surgery.