City council supports vision for hospital services expansion

Council will further advocate regarding the urgent infrastructure needs of the hospital

Red Deer City councillors are standing behind Councillor Ken Johnston’s stance of advocating for local hospital expansion.

“The Red Deer Regional Hospital is now the fourth busiest hospital in our province,” said Johnston at Monday night’s meeting, adding that it ranks ahead of some of the other hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton.

“It currently does twice the volume of the QEII Regional Hospital in Grande Prairie and the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge and it does over three times the volume of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.”

He highlighted, via discussion over a Notice of Motion that he submitted late last month, two of the many programs which either operate at or beyond capacity within the Central Zone, which were cardiac and addiction and mental health.

Back in October of 2016, physicians of Red Deer sounded the alarm stating that because of the absence of cardiac catheter services, lives in the Central Zone were at risk.

“In fact mortality rates were up to 50 per cent higher in the Central Zone than those in Calgary and Edmonton,” said Johnston.

In 2014, he said the Cardiovascular Health and Stroke Clinical Network delivered a report that determined a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Centre would be justifiable in Red Deer in the next three to five years.

“Here we are in 2017, not even on the capital plan, let alone near a service that was identified in 2014 as being eligible for installation over the next three to five years. However the issues at the hospital are broader than just the cardiac.”

He also talked about mental health and addictions.

He said the strain on the health care system is well-known to his colleagues around the table, along with medical professionals.

“I want to talk specifically about the pressure this is putting on bed capacity at the Red Deer Hospital. It’s an enormous problem at our local hospital. It’s a root cause of, I suggest, many of the long waiting periods and so forth.”

Also present at Monday’s meeting were three doctors, one of which was Kym Jim.

He said they were pleased to see the City taking an interest in health care issues in Central Alberta, and were also pleased to see Johnston’s motion pass.

“I think that this speaks volumes of the issues that face Central Alberta when it comes to health care delivery, and that is that really Central Albertans are not getting the healthcare that they have earned,” said Jim.

“The physicians in Red Deer have been working very closely with Alberta Health Services in trying to formulate a new plan for health care delivery in Central Alberta. I think that those efforts, as well as the efforts of council in terms of supporting this, and as well the reaction that we’ve seen from the public as far as really overwhelming support for this cause bodes well for the future,” he said.

Jim said they are aiming to try and get a public rally together for Sept. 9th and hope to announce firm details in the next week or so.

“Really it’s about getting the services closer to home, and Central Alberta is now big enough to have many of these services closer to home. People shouldn’t be having to travel to Edmonton and Calgary to get those services.”

Council will now advocate to the province and the Ministry of Health regarding the urgent infrastructure needs of the hospital.

They will also urge the government to consider reinstating the hospital to the capital priorities list as identified in the 2015 Capital Submission for the purpose of ensuring timely and accessible health service equity for the citizens of the Central Zone, officials said.