Red Deer Regional Hospital will see an expanded labour and delivery unit via two new operating rooms, officials announced last week.
One operating room will be used for scheduled caesarian sections and the other will be used for emergency obstetrical procedures. Currently, all emergency and scheduled C-sections are performed in a general operating room in the hospital.
“Expanding obstetrical services in Red Deer will help ensure children have the best possible start to life,” said Fred Horne, minister of health.
The new operating rooms will help reduce pressures in general surgery, helping to decrease wait times for elective procedures and better serve patients in the community, he said, adding that the two rooms are part of the $9.7 million expansion project to increase labour and delivery space at the maternal/child services unit, said Horne.
On average, about 225 babies are born in the Red Deer Regional Hospital every month, and a third of those deliveries result in C-sections.
These obstetrical operating rooms will alleviate pressure in the general operating room, and are expected to allow about 1,600 more general surgeries to be completed every year.
With the growing population in the region, it’s a necessity, said Horne.
“We are actually growing by about 140,000 people a year, and Red Deer continues to see some of the highest growth in the province,” he said. “When we think about our healthcare system, the number of people we serve each year increase by that scale – and that’s only going to get bigger in the future. That means we have to be prepared to welcome those new Albertans and to provide them with facilities and services, particularly in the area of maternal and child health.”
The project consultant is expected to be in place this spring. Project design and construction tenders will be completed before construction begins in early 2015.
Construction is expected to take 18 months to complete.
“This expansion will further enhance patient safety and access to obstetrical procedures as well as have a positive impact on overall operations at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre,” said Dr. Bill Young, associate zone medical director of Red Deer Regional Hospital and obstetrician. “We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time, and we are really excited,” he said, adding that the rates for C-sections have steadily risen over the years.
“From what was five per cent many years ago, to what is now is about 30 per cent of all deliveries. And it’s been for a variety of reasons,” he said. “It has now become the most common operation performed in North America.
“Pretty much every hospital has struggled to meet the demands put on their operating resources to meet this need. It impacts not only obstetrical patients but other services as well in terms of the surgical capacity of the hospital.
“Our entire team is very excited to have this go forward.”
The Red Deer Regional Health Foundation is contributing $1.2 million to the project, said John Donald, board chair. “Through the great work of our volunteers and donors we are able to be involved in this project. It is great to know that our $1.2-million donation is helping this much needed project become a reality to enhance health care in Central Alberta.”