Rally planned to continue building awareness about City’s hospital

Huge funding shortfalls continue to hinder services offered at Red Deer Regional

Organizers with Diagnosis Critical – Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital are gearing up for another awareness-building rally on Sept. 10th at the Memorial Centre. The event starts at 2 p.m.

The rally follows a massive turnout for the State of the Hospital Address held this past February at which crowds heard the Red Deer Regional Hospital has been hugely short-changed over the years funding-wise from the province in terms of being able to keep up with local population growth and service demand.

Organizers said the lack of health care infrastructure spending that Central Alberta has received over the past years has led to serious consequences for health care in Central Alberta – including the lack of a cardiac catheter lab and other cardiac supports.

It was also pointed out at that meeting that 60% of heart attack sufferers in Central Albertans were more likely to die than residents of Calgary or Edmonton because of the lack of a cardiac catheter lab, and ultimately, this kind of limited care in cardiac services is just one way the Red Deer Hospital has fallen so far behind over the years.

The hospital is badly in need of an increase in capacity overall, officials say.

“Basically it’s an update from the State of the Hospital Address which was held in February,” said Dr. Kym Jim. “We want to update the public on some new information that we have, where Red Deer stands in terms of some of the deficiencies that it has in comparison to other hospitals. We also want to go over some of our concerns from before, some progress that has been made and areas where progress has not been made.

“It’s really about continuing to rally public support for this initiative – I think at this point, there has been tremendous public awareness as to this issue.”

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.”

Jim noted currently, most local residents are likely aware of the urgent issue. “There aren’t many people in Red Deer who don’t know of the issue, or who haven’t been affected by it, whether it be the lack of operating room space or the lack the lack of a cardiac catheterization lab, or other services that Red Deer doesn’t have that Central Albertans should have access to,” he said.

“We want to make people more aware of these issues that that these concerns continue to be brought forward to local MLAs as well as the minister of health and executives with Alberta Health Services and the premier.

“Central Albertans are being short-changed. And I think that people really need to know the details of it.”

As Jim mentioned, there have been great strides in terms of drumming up public awareness about the issue.

“What is lacking is action. Have we made any progress with action on this issue? We have seen hospital announcements for other jurisdictions and we’ve seen nothing Red Deer. So I guess in that regard, no progress has been made,” he said. To be clear, he said they are supportive health care funding announcements made for other areas, but Red Deer is certainly on that list.

“There have been no announcements, and that’s the part that is very disappointing,” he said, adding that essentially, local tax dollars are continuing to be exported to Edmonton and Calgary for services, “That could and should be delivered close to home.”

It also has economic implications locally, as Red Deer Regional Hospital is a huge employer, he noted. Without the needed expansion, the number of positions that can be offered there are ultimately affected as well.

“That’s not just for Red Deer – there are countless people outside of Red Deer that are directly or are indirectly employed by Red Deer Regional Hospital.” With adequate services provided, that number would of course be higher, too.

Meanwhile, officials with the organization have 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.

Because of the shortcoming, there are longer wait times and plenty of travel to Edmonton and Calgary to receive care. Central Alberta and the Red Deer hospital 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.

Even back to 2007-2008, there was a regional master plan and the Red Deer Regional Hospital Master Plan was also created.

It called for service development in the hospital to deliver more advanced services and keep pace with expected population growth. But the plan was shelved with the amalgamation of the health regions in 2008.

Then, in 2014, the Red Deer Regional Master Plan was created. Once again, this was after extensive consultation.

At that time, the hospital was third on the list for sites needing major infrastructure improvement in Alberta.

In 2015, there was the ‘Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre Service & Program Expansion Needs Assessment’.

This showed that we were 96 beds short in the hospital, 18 beds short in the ER, three operating rooms short and multiple programs were missing.

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

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

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com

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