Many central Albertans will be anxious to see if the Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion is in the Feb. 27 provincial budget. (Advocate file photo).

‘Not a word’ on Red Deer hospital expansion, says NDP

The NDP health critic is guessing ‘no’

Exactly one year after the former NDP government promised a Red Deer hospital expansion, there’s still no word the UCP government is moving ahead with the project, says the New Democrat health critic.

Dave Shepherd believes there would already be some indication if the UCP was planning some big announcement regarding Red Deer hospital in the Feb. 27 provincial budget.

“With such a major investment, the MLAs would have dropped a few hints by now,” or municipal leaders would have been given the heads-up, Shepherd said, “but we’ve heard absolutely nothing. Not a word.”

Instead, he noted Health Minister Tyler Shandro wrote a column for an Edmonton news outlet about the need to close some little-used rural hospital emergency rooms.

And Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen has spoken about possibly adding private, for-profit clinics to the provincial health-care system.

The latter could increase patient crowding at Red Deer hospital, added Shepherd, whose NDP government was defeated a couple of months after the promise of the hospital expansion was made on Feb. 14, 2019.

Rachel Notley promises to expand Red Deer hospital

Alberta Health responded to Shepherd’s comments with this statement on Friday: “We campaigned on a promise to move forward on the much-needed modernization and expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, and we intend to keep that commitment.

“Our government will have more to say on this in the days ahead,” states Steve Buick, press secretary for the minister.

Meanwhile, patient overcrowding at Red Deer hospital, which serves 300,000 people in central Alberta, continues to create significant issues.

A local woman recently complained that her sick mother had to lay on a stretcher in a hallway for six hours waiting for a hospital bed.

Hospital reaches overcapacity

The overcapacity situation caused Red Deer hospital officials to initiate a Level 3 protocol (the second highest) for the seventh time since last summer. This means some patients had to be sent to other facilities to free up hospital beds in Red Deer.

Last week, Red Deer orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bryce Hendersen also spoke out about the “gross” lack of operating room capacity, leading to some of his patients waiting for days to get broken bones set, increasing the potential for blood clots.

Patients waiting days for emergency surgery

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan could not be reached for comment Friday about whether central Albertans can expect some action on the hospital to be taken in the upcoming provincial budget.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer had expressed disappointment when no hospital expansion funds were included in the last provincial budget in October.

At the time, she stated her anticipation for seeing something for the hospital, as well as a new 24/7 shelter, in the 2020 budget.

On Friday, Veer said she hasn’t been given any hints about what’s coming in this second budget, but has been invited to come to Edmonton for the announcement, which could indicate Red Deer will be singled out for some project funding — “or it could be just a courtesy invite.”

Veer added the hospital expansion remains the community’s biggest priority, but a shelter is also one of the city’s “asks.” Whether either project will be announced remains to be seen, she added.

Mayor expects funds will come next spring

Dr. Kym Jim, of the Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta, said he does not want to wade into a political debate on the issue. But his society has seen some work happening lately on the business plan that’s needed before a hospital expansion can be done.

“At this point, we are hopeful that things are progressing and a business case is being initiated… Our society will make further comment once it’s complete,” Jim added.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education minister targeting more money to classes

Alberta Education announces new funding model

Red Deer city councillor wants to ban conversion therapy

The discredited practice is a form of psychological abuse, says Dianne Wyntjes

Updated: Summer villages oppose increased density at Buffalo Lake RV park

The summer villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands have rejected a… Continue reading

Indoor farmers market survey underway

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce sponsors survey

New Red Deer utility rates take effect March 1

The City of Red Deer has increased its utility fees. Beginning March… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Stolen car provides opportunity to try out public transit

I had my car stolen on Jan. 10, just as our one… Continue reading

POLL: How would you characterize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the rail blockades?

How would you characterize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the rail… Continue reading

Upsets tighten Tournament of Hearts race to championship round

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The “pool of death” defending champion Chelsea Carey… Continue reading

Repairs will force QEII lane cloure north of Ponoka on Wednesday

Crews will be performing cable barrier repairs on the QEII Highway, five… Continue reading

Ottawa changing stress test rate for insured mortgages starting April 6

OTTAWA — The federal government is changing the stress test rate for… Continue reading

PM urges patience, promises reconciliation in face of anti-pipeline blockades

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to redouble reconciliation efforts with… Continue reading

Most Read