Major renovations costing $9.3 million are underway at Stettler Hospital and Care Centre to upgrade its emergency, obstetric and food services areas.
Brant Poirier, Alberta Health Services’ central zone area director for Stettler and Paintearth counties and Special Areas No. 4, said the facility has been renovated over the years, but more modernization was required.
He said upgrades may help reduce the pressure on hospitals in other central Alberta communities, including Red Deer, but it all depends on patients.
“People get to choose where they have their babies. They would have to choose to come to Stettler and have one of our physicians deliver their baby,” said Poirier about Stettler’s obstetric department, which is only for low-risk births.
He said emergency room patients also generally go to the closest hospital, depending on the type of care required.
But Stettler has already experienced a growing number of births over the past five years. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, 190 babies were born at the hospital.
Now, women who have their babies in Stettler will soon have access to two upgraded suites for their labour, delivery and recovery.
The rooms will better integrate obstetric equipment and technology, and will be larger to fit a cot for family.
“Their significant other can have the full experience with their loved one,” Poirier said.
In March, work started on a new pharmacy and gift shop, and modifications to the cafeteria, that will make room for the new obstetric suites, which should be complete by the end of the year.
He said work on the emergency department will begin in early 2020 that will provide better work flow, accessibility, safety and security, and patient care.
“Because it’s an older facility, it was designed differently for workload, and times have changed,” Poirier said.
The department will still have six stretchers for patients, but two more chairs for procedures will be added, for a total of five.
AHS said the hospital remains fully operational while construction is underway, and every effort is being made to minimize impact to patients during construction.