Hospital too small for region: report

Central Alberta has outgrown Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre to the point where a tall clinical tower should be built to expand programs and replace aging infrastructure, according to a hospital report.

Central Alberta has outgrown Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre to the point where a tall clinical tower should be built to expand programs and replace aging infrastructure, according to a hospital report.

An internal Alberta Health Services needs assessment report of the facility, dated December 2015, indicated medical beds were at 135 per cent occupancy and 79 more beds are required now. There are now 158 beds.

There should be 12 operating rooms instead of nine, and there should be 76 surgical beds, up from 69.

The emergency department’s 52 treatment spaces should have 18 more treatment stretchers, and the pediatric beds should double to 20.

The only expansion project listed in the report that was underway was the construction of two maternity operating rooms. The $9.7-million project should be finished next spring.

Ten and 20-year projections in the 82-page report show how the lack of beds and services will continue to grow if not addressed.

Needs Assessment: Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre Service and Program Expansion was submitted for government consideration in December and the wait is now on.

“We’re part of 24 high-priority projects that have been identified in the Alberta Health Services capital submissions for 2015,” said Carol Murray, senior operating officer for AHS Central Zone who is responsible for the central area including Red Deer.

“The priority and the ranking has to take into consideration the entire province’s needs and pressure points and capacity issues. So we don’t know if we’re one, two, three, four or 24.”

Approval to go on to the design and cost phase didn’t happen in the 2016-17 provincial budget.

At that phase it would be determined whether construction would be a new tower at the hospital campus. Other proposed options include a mid-rise expansion within the centre of the existing hospital, or site expansion through land acquisition.

Murray said Red Deer’s turn will come. Two regional hospitals in Southern Alberta currently have capital projects that were previously approved.

“We haven’t had a major capital injection, other than the (two maternity operating rooms) for a time. We anticipate that’s an important factor that would be taken into consideration.”

According to the assessment, Red Deer hospital has the fourth highest acuity of all full service acute care facilities in Alberta. Only University of Alberta Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre and Royal Alexandra Hospital are higher.

Red Deer hospital was also the fourth busiest incoming referral site and fourth busiest surgical service site.

Murray said the fact that the hospital plays an important role in the province’s health care system is in its favour.

“We know, and the community knows, we have significant capacity issues. But having said that we’re not standing still. We’re looking at ways of being more efficient with our current capacity.”

A few years ago some day surgery was moved to hospitals in Olds and Innisfail to increase surgeries. Having additional operating rooms used during evening shifts and extending surgery hours are other strategies being examined, she said.

“We know that our wait times could be improved for a number of our surgeries.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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