Chronic underfunding of local health care must be addressed

It is with dismay to read that Central Zone will be getting only 28 more continuing care spaces, none of them in Red Deer (Advocate reporter Susan Zielinski: Region getting 28 more spaces, Oct. 16, 2014). The previous week, over 50 alternate level of care patients occupied beds in Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, putting huge pressure on our acute care system. This number of patients who could be placed in alternate care is typical.

It is with dismay to read that Central Zone will be getting only 28 more continuing care spaces, none of them in Red Deer (Advocate reporter Susan Zielinski: Region getting 28 more spaces, Oct. 16, 2014).

The previous week, over 50 alternate level of care patients occupied beds in Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, putting huge pressure on our acute care system. This number of patients who could be placed in alternate care is typical.

Of 464 beds announced provincially, 28 are to be distributed throughout Central Alberta. This falls short of addressing our ongoing dire predicament in our efforts to deliver quality health care. The government should recognize the need for catch-up in Central Alberta by building new much-needed space to take pressure off our acute care beds.

For close to two decades, local health-care workers have squeezed out every last ounce of efficiency, only to be rewarded by continued chronic underfunding.

Serving a vast geography and population of Central Zone, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has the fourth highest acuity of hospitals in the entire province. We have been growing steadily in population and severity of medical problems we treat.

The urgent need for increased capacity is clearly obvious, yet continuing care beds are distributed throughout the province in numbers that appear to be in response to political, rather than clinical, need.

It’s time Central Albertans take note and speak up loudly. As a conservative stronghold for decades, political complacency in government seems to have caused continued underfunding across the entire spectrum of health care for citizens Central Alberta.

Voice your concerns, not only to our MLAs who have tried to get our message through, but also to our provincial leaders.

There is an opportunity to restore equitable funding to Central Alberta, but only if the population vociferously expresses this message to our government.

Paul E. Hardy

General Surgeon

Red Deer

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