Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

One of the doctors campaigning for Red Deer hospital’s expansion remains hopeful a changed political landscape will not sidetrack the project.

“Certainly our local candidates from the UCP did use hospital expansion and the cardiac catheterization lab as a platform that they campaigned on,” said Dr. Keith Wolstenholme.

“Our hope and expectation is the new government will see the truth of the needs assessment, and they will realize that, regardless of which governments have been in control of the purse strings in the past, what we need now is action.

“We need to follow through on the plan made,” he said. “I guess I would say I’m hopeful. We’ll see what happens.”

Red Deer North UCP candidate and now MLA-elect Adriana LaGrange made a point of repeating her support for hospital expansion on election night.

Incoming Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan also pledged to lobby on behalf of the region, which he agreed had been underfunded in the past compared with other parts of the province.

Stephan believes there will be good news coming on the hospital expansion.

“I think it will be very promising,” he said this week, after getting a strong show of support from voters. “I look forward to discussing specifics of that with our party.”

Premier-elect Jason Kenney is aware of the importance of the issue locally.

“I think when Jason Kenney was here last week for the rally, he indicated that was going to be a priority. I do think, honestly, in the upcoming weeks and months, that we will have some good news and some good developments.

“He made some positive commitments, and I think that will be followed through because that is something central Alberta needs.”

The Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta has been busy keeping the issue front and centre, meeting with municipal councils over the past few weeks to build on the previously voiced support from municipalities for better health-care options.

“We’re sort of just refreshing that, keeping it in front of their minds,” Wolstenholme said, adding they plan to ask municipalities to send formal letters of support to Edmonton.

Wolstenholme said representatives will now be looking to set up a meeting with Kenney and the new health minister, when that position is announced.

“I think the data and the evidence is clear. We’ll now be looking at different faces across the table, but our message is not going to change.

“This is a needed expansion, regardless of who’s in power and who is making decisions.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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