The NDP Government is promising expansion at Red Deer Regional Hospital should they be re-elected this spring.
Premier Rachel Notley said Wednesday that if her government wins another term in office they will bring much-needed infrastructure and services upgrades to the hospital, including a cardiac catheterization lab.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told rdnewsNOW Thursday they plan to include it in their next budget.
“I want all the people of Red Deer to know that a significant priority for our government is the Red Deer hospital, that it’s something we’re working diligently on, and that we’ll make sure it’s part of moving forward instead of the deep cuts being proposed by the opposition,” Hoffman stated.
“I totally get why people want to hear a flashy announcement and certainly I’d love to be in a position to do that, but I’m not going to do that without having money set aside to actually fund those projects.”
Hoffman promised details will emerge once a project has been fully-costed.
“We know that the hospital’s doing a great job, that staff there have been punching above their weight for many years, and that they need to have a space that reflects the needs of central Alberta and of Red Deer.”
Dr. Kym Jim with the Society for Fair and Transparent Care in Central Alberta is cautiously optimistic over the news.
“We're very encouraged by this development, and we certainly hope that we can garner the support from the other political parties for this initiative as well,” he said Thursday.
“We all recognize the issues that face Alberta from a funding perspective, but we are very certain that central Alberta has not been dealt its fair share in terms of healthcare facilities over the last 30 years.”
Dr. Jim said the society will not be satisfied until a new hospital and advanced services are built and operating in Red Deer, also noting it could be close to a decade before that happens if an announcement for hospital funding were made today.
"Our society has always functioned on a totally non-partisan basis. It has been our goal to talk and meet with any politician or individual that has any say in making decisions for hospital funding, so yes, we would like to see commitments from other parties as well."
Meanwhile, Red Deer mayor Tara Veer believes it’s positive that the hospital expansion is becoming part of the election conversation.
“We have felt some cautious optimism in terms of elected officials or those who are pursuing to be elected officials and their awareness that this is not just an issue that’s of deep concern for Red Deerians, but certainly for all Albertans,” she said. “Regardless of who forms government in the next term, it is the very strong expectation of citizens in the Central Zone that the hospital infrastructure expansion would be completed.”
The Society for Fair and Transparent Healthcare Funding for Central Alberta will be holding a news conference in early March to make a number of announcements regarding their status going forward.
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