Editorial: Design is moving forward on Red Deer Regional Hospital project

When it comes to building hospitals, you get what you plan and design for, and our government builds hospitals to last. The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre redevelopment is a priority for me as the Minister of Infrastructure and we are committed to getting it done safely and as quickly as possible, while making sure that it is done right.

With planning complete, we have entered the design phase for the expansion by engaging a prime consultant, Dialog, who are responsible for outlining room sizes and layouts, hallways, and furniture and equipment needs, in addition to building system requirements, such as plumbing and electrical. The final stage of design will include everything the contractor will need to complete construction.

During design, Dialog and the project team will consult with physicians, nurses, other health- care professionals, patients and their families, as well as community partners. They will also work with others including the Ministry of Health, Alberta Health Services, architects, engineers and other specialized consultants to build a state-of-the-art facility. The design process will take about three years to complete, and we are right on schedule.

Building a modern acute-care hospital takes about 10 years from the start of planning to the end of construction. The Red Deer Hospital redevelopment is one of the largest health care projects that the province has ever undertaken with construction expected to be complete by 2030 or 2031 and we are committed to shortening the timelines where possible.

This may seem long, especially for residents of Red Deer and central Alberta who have been advocating for this hospital expansion since 2008, but spending the necessary time getting it right will ensure a smooth and successful build, avoiding costly undue delays. We will not sacrifice quality in any phase of the Red Deer hospital expansion or any of the other hundreds of infrastructure projects happening across Alberta.

Furthermore, development delays were exacerbated in 2017 when the government of the day removed it from the priority capital projects list, effectively canceling the hospital’s development. This action meant that we had to start from the beginning when our government re-funded the project in Budget 2020.

The expansion is being built on the existing site so the current hospital will stay fully operational. This means we need to mitigate the impacts of noise, space limitations and other construction activities for patients, family and staff.

This project is a priority for us, but with a hospital, one needs to take special care. Like the saying goes, measure twice and cut once. Over 10,000 jobs are being created with this investment to ensure things are done right.

I am unequivocally committed to completing the Red Deer hospital expansion without compromising quality. Red Deer and the surrounding communities will get the hospital to meet their needs today and well into the future.

Peter Guthrie is Alberta’s Minister of infrastructure and MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane.

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