Planning work underway toward hospital expansion, AHS official says

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard)
January 11, 2018 - 9:15pm Updated: January 12, 2018 - 9:28am

Despite the fact that Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion was passed over on the updated list of AHS priority capital projects, an official with the health authority says work is underway toward making it happen.

“This particular year, in part because last year there were a large number of projects that were identified and had some funding available to them, there wasn’t as much money. So the list was made to be quite succinct," says Allan Sinclair, Senior Operating Officer with AHS Central Zone about why expansion of Red Deer Regional was not included on the updated AHS priority projects list released this week.

"They were mostly looking for projects that would either be utilizing shelled-in space -- that might be an empty floor that had been built for future expansion, or for projects that were specifically going to help us to move care to the community."

Sinclair says there are two projects underway that will emphasize the importance of hospital expansion with decision makers.

The first, he says, is an updated version of the hospital needs assessment done in 2015. That assessment showed the hospital was short three operating rooms and 114 beds.

“Now that we’ve been working on long-range planning, we’ve got much more recent data which will be put into that refresh of the needs assessment,” Sinclair says. “It will help to inform more fully the magnitude of the project we need to have. That helps to tie into the more authoritative project plan for what we need to expand the hospital in the future.”

Also nearing completion, Sinclair says, is a provincial cardiac services plan that looks at all of the province’s zones and what services they currently have and should have. This is of particular interest given the impassioned push for a cardiac catheterization lab in Red Deer.

“That piece of work is really key to us because we have been putting in a lot of work in the Central Zone, which is mostly Red Deer but not exclusively, around our comprehensive plan for cardiac services,” Sinclair notes.

While many are viewing the exclusion from the AHS priority projects list as a major setback, Sinclair says all hope is not lost.

“Certainly, we know that the physician group here who are passionate about care and services, they are seeing patients on a daily basis that they’d like to get in to provide care quicker and sooner. It’s an excellent medical staff here and excellent clinical staff.”

Sinclair adds, “This is a hospital with capacity challenges, without question, but we have got some excellent staff giving good care. We absolutely support our physicians in the work they are doing to bring this to the forefront.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman took to Facebook on Thursday to share her thoughts on the situation.

Hoffman says she met earlier in the day with Red Deer – North MLA Kim Schreiner and Red Deer – South MLA Barb Miller, who both shared their disappointment with Red Deer Regional Hospital being excluded from the priority projects list.

“When Barb and Kim talk about their community’s health needs, I’m always ready to listen,” Hoffman said in her statement. “We aren’t done yet. And I’ll keep working with Barb and Kim to find ways to help central Alberta.”

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