"Do the right thing," council urges health minister regarding Red Deer Regional Hospital

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
July 10, 2017 - 10:21pm

A Red Deer city councillor has taken one more stand in calling on the province to do the right thing by central Albertans and fund necessary expansion at Red Deer Regional Hospital.

Ken Johnston presented his notice of motion two weeks ago and it was accepted by his council colleagues unanimously Monday night.

"I think the community has heard from me on this -- they've been quite patient, frankly, and they've been quite supportive," he said at one point during the meeting. "I must say on a personal note, I've paid a bit of a price to be here with this motion."

Johnston spent 111 days at the hospital after his wife was airlifted to Calgary due to cardiac issues. She was transferred back to Red Deer soon thereafter and passed away nearly four months later. Johnston has consistently repeated the alarming statistic which suggests those in AHS' Central Zone who experience a cardiac problem are upwards of 60 per cent more likely to not survive simply because they have to travel to Calgary or Edmonton for care.

"Let's push this issue out and ensure that those particular issues are looked at and not just let them think 'They just need money for another floor or two.' No. What we're trying to set here is a vision for hospital care and support for arguably the next 30 or 50 years in the city, so please province of Alberta, please province of Alberta," he pleaded. "Do the right thing."

"These statistics were not invented by the scientists and caregivers that are sitting in the front row. These are the people that are saying in the community that we have a crisis of care. This isn't made up, this isn't a subjective point of view, this is not a political party issue or whatever. When you and I walk into the doors of the hospital tomorrow, these are the people who say they are handicapped in providing service."

Dr. Kym Jim, a physician at Red Deer Regional who's been a strong voice for local doctors on this issue, was in attendance at Monday's meeting. Jim said the motion from Johnston speaks volumes about the severity of the obstacles central Albertans face in receiving a reasonable standard of care.

"The physicians in Red Deer have been working very closely with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health in order to formulate a new plan for healthcare delivery in central Alberta," he said. "I think those efforts, as well as the efforts of council and the reaction we've seen from the public as far as overwhelming support for this cause, I think bodes well for the future. We really hope the Minister is listening to this and hope we can see some positive action on it in the near future."

Jim added there should be more information available next week on a public rally planned for September 9.

"We'd be well-served to look at these doctors in the public gallery tonight because they have come as civilians and tomorrow we could see them in their smocks and in their coats, with their stethoscopes and their medical equipment," Johnston said. "The message from them will be clearly 'We cannot help you in certain matters of vital medical support' or 'We cannot help you now nor can we in a foreseeable consultative healthy timeframe.' That is the situation in a nutshell that we find ourselves in."

The matter will now be advocated to the Government of Alberta through AUMA and letters will go out to other Alberta mayors.

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