Officials react to lack of hospital funding

No funds allocated for more support at the Red Deer Regional Hospital in provincial budget

  • Mar. 17, 2017 10:14 p.m.

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Representatives with Diagnosis Critical – Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital are deeply disappointed in this week’s provincial budget which showed no infrastructure funding for the City’s hospital.

Last month, reps with Diagnosis Critical held a ‘State of the Hospital Address’ where they told a packed house at the Baymont Inn & Suites about the massive funding shortfalls that have affected how the Red Deer Hospital can deliver services.

“As a group of physicians, we are extremely disappointed,” said Dr. Kym Jim, of the Diagnosis Critical group. The budget did include $400 million for an Edmonton hospital. “And as can be seen on our facebook page, there are a lot of citizens in Central Alberta that are also extremely disappointed,” he said.

“Really, what’s happened here is that needs are being addressed in Edmonton and Calgary which is good for health care. But essentially, dollars per capita, have been grossly ‘mal-distributed’ for the past 20 years. And it’s going to be propagated in this budget.

“Not a single penny for (hospital) infrastructure spending in Central Alberta,” he said, adding the need for many of the projects currently in line for funding didn’t exist even five years ago back when Red Deer was near the top of the list.

“What has happened here? It is planning gone totally awry. And our outcomes are worse in several key areas.”

Meanwhile, the issue of over-crowding and a critical lack of infrastructure funding at the Red Deer Regional Hospital is continuing to gain momentum across the community. A June rally is also in the works, officials say.

“There are also countless documents to stress the need in Central Alberta yet none of it has been addressed.”

Mayor Tara Veer said more support for the Red Deer Regional Hospital is needed.

“The hospital not only serves Red Deerians, it serves our region and it’s often identified as upwards of 400,000 to 450,000 Albertans that they serve. I totally expect that this will not only be an advocacy effort for our community and Red Deer, but for our regional community as well,” said Veer.

She added the City will likely take a regional approach in advocating for the hospital.

“I full expect that given the fact the Red Deer Regional Hospital Foundation, AHS (Alberta Health Services) as well as the emergency room doctors have raised the Red Deer Regional Hospital as a concern, that our community advocacy directly to the provincial government will elevate. From the City’s perspective we will likely work with our regional partners in identifying that as well as with community stakeholders in the coming years.”

“I think it is important to note that Red Deer Regional just doesn’t serve Red Deer central, it is the hospital in which anyone traveling along the QEII (highway) if there are occurrences there, that is the hospital they are sent to.”

She added the hospital is not currently included in any future provincial projects.

In addition, at last month’s State of the Hospital Address, organizers said the lack of health care infrastructure spending that Central Alberta has received over the past many years has led to extremely serious consequences for health care in Central Alberta.

On the group’s facebook page, it notes the, “Red Deer Regional Hospital is consistently amongst the top five busiest hospitals in Alberta and serves 450,000 to 500,000 Central Albertans as the only referral centre in our zone.”

Officials with the organization also pointed to a document (the 2016 Multi-Year Facility Infrastructure Capital Submission) they say is at the crux of the matter and shows how Central Alberta is being overlooked in terms of health care infrastructure development.

Central Alberta and the Red Deer hospital also lack the programs to deal with an array of medical illnesses that could be dealt with locally if proper funding were allocated to Central Alberta.

Last year, the 2016 Multi-Year Facility Infrastructure Capital Submission was released and Red Deer Regional Hospital was no longer on the list, said Jim, adding that several projects were set in Calgary and Edmonton and other places.

“I think if you talk to people around (this area), Central Alberta is not being recognized in terms of the population that exists. At some point of time, people in government – in many areas of government let alone health care – need to take a serious look at that. They are essentially taking Central Albertans’ money and exporting the tax dollars to Edmonton and Calgary to build projects. I don’t think people are going to stand for it. I don’t think people haven’t figured this out.

“I think people will demand services that are closer to home,” he said.

“I have yet to hear adequate answers to any of our questions.”

For more information, find them on facebook at ‘Diagnosis Critical – Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital’.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com

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