Hundreds of central Albertans gathered in the Memorial Centre parking lot in Red Deer Sunday afternoon to voice their concerns about unfair and inequitable healthcare funding for the AHS Central Zone.
Many local doctors are calling for a Cardiac Catheterization lab in the city and a whole new wing for the Red Deer Regional Hospital as just a starting point. However, it doesn’t appear as though any of those will come to pass anytime soon as Red Deer is no longer on the AHS Urgent Capital Priorities list, leaving residents of central Alberta to look elsewhere for cardiology care and other critical needs.
Other issues include a lack of hospital beds, operating rooms and emergency rooms.
Dr. Kym Jim is among a group of local physicians leading a grassroots movement to get some action on the issue. He says the Red Deer Regional Hospital is on pace to not receive a single, net-new hospital bed for the next 25 years. He says the last expansion at the RDRH was in 2003 when ten acute care beds were added.
One member of the crowd voiced his displeasure with the facts by saying, “Sounds to me like our tax dollars are being used to buy votes in Edmonton and Calgary."
Dr. Paul Hardy responded by encouraging the crowd to write to their MLA’s and put pressure on the government to address their concerns.
“We are calling for a business case to expand the Red Deer Regional Hospital and to make it’s expansion a priority-funded project," he said.
Dr. Keith Wolstenholme says there remains a 114 bed shortage at RDRH, with some patients waiting up to 18 months for surgery. Further pointing out they are also short three operating room suites. He says the situation isn’t fair and it isn’t right, calling for immediate action from the provincial government.
United Conservative Party Health Critic Tany Yao and Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr released a statement Sunday calling on the NDP government to ensure central Alberta residents receive equitable hospital services:
“Central Alberta and the Red Deer Regional Hospital require equitable infrastructure and services to properly serve the population. There have been serious concerns raised about the sustainability of services as population growth and funding constraints further exacerbate existing problems," the statement read in part. “The Health Minister needs to listen to the serious concerns of central Alberta residents and Red Deer Regional Hospital doctors."
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