NDP leader Rachel Notley expects Red Deerians would see shovels in the ground by 2024 to begin the much needed Red Deer hospital’s expansion project if the NDP are elected.
“We expect that we will be getting shovels into the ground no later than 2024 because we know that this is long overdue. Health care demands and pressures in Central Alberta have increased dramatically over the last five years, and this has become the number one priority and we’ll get it done,” said Notley who spoke in front of Red Deer Regional Hospital on the second day of the provincial election campaign.
She said in early 2019 the NDP committed to a significant rebuild for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. The UCP matched that commitment, but unfortunately nothing has been done.
It’s unacceptable that UCP Infrastructure Minister Nathan Neudorf brushed off concerns about the project’s delay saying it would be too tedious and time consuming to explain those delays, she added.
“Capacity issues have left patients along the loading bays in the Red Deer Regional Hospital only to be airlifted out of this city because there simply isn’t any room left to treat them here.”
She said the NDP would put $150 million towards the expansion next year, and $300 million after that.
“You have my word that Red Deer Hospital is our top priority for this community. We will do everything in our power to accelerate its completion and we will provide stable and competent and transparent leadership throughout the process,” Notley said.
Dr. Maureen McCall said she has witnessed the stress on patients, families and staff when there is constant pressure to discharge patients as quickly as possible to make room for people waiting in the emergency department.
“We clearly need to prioritize investment and complete the Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion as soon as possible. We can’t continue to provide excellent quality care when our facilities and health care struggle to handle the overwhelming demand that we’re seeing today,” said McCall who has worked on every ward and in every department at the hospital.
She said expansion is desperately needed. Transporting critical patients to Calgary or Edmonton isn’t a sustainable approach.
“We can’t keep putting patients lives at risk,” said McCall who spoke at the NDP press conference.
Notley said the NDP would also review the Emergency Medical Services system to fix the problems identified by the mayors of Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
On Monday, the mayors released a statement calling to reverse provincial changes to ambulance dispatching and the return of local dispatch for stable and integrated EMS.
“We know that EMS is not working and we’ve already said very clearly that we’re going to review it with a goal to fixing the problems that leaders in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Fort McMurray have identified.
“Because the situation has changed from when we were last in government, we will have to look at how we can unscramble that egg in a way that achieves the greatest level of service for Albertans and the greatest ability to respond to local needs and the ask of local leadership.”