BY MARK WEBER
A State of the Hospital Address is set for Feb. 28th at the Baymont Inn & Suites and Conference Centre (formerly the Red Deer Lodge), starting at 4 p.m.
The meeting is being hosted by a group called Diagnosis Critical – Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital.
Organizers say it’s a presentation describing the lack of health care infrastructure spending that Central Alberta is receiving and the consequences this has for health care in Central Alberta.
For one thing, patients should be able to access the appropriate treatment here in Red Deer instead of often having to go to Edmonton and Calgary, said Dr. Kym Jim. “Times have changed, technology has changed and the population in Central Alberta has changed so these kinds of services are warranted and could be supported here closer to where people are,” he said. “The hospital is badly in need of an increase in capacity.”
On the group’s facebook page, it notes that 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.
“Surgeries are routinely cancelled because there are no available beds to look after patients post-operatively.”
Alarmingly as well, “Central Albertans are 60% more likely to die from heart attacks than patients in Edmonton or Calgary due to a lack of a cardiac catheterization lab and other cardiac programs,” the document reads.
Also, “Program spending for illnesses involving the lung, gastrointestinal, nervous system, kidney and the heart, and for conditions such as diabetes, have not kept pace with the needs of the population of Central Alberta. This means that patients have to go to Edmonton or Calgary for their care.”
Officials with the organization point 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.
“Starting on page 29 of the document, image 33 in the album, the priorities for capital projects are outlined,” it reads. “Of the 21 projects, five have a provincial scope (most with primary infrastructure in Edmonton or Calgary), one is in Lethbridge, and the remaining projects are all in Edmonton and Calgary.
“There are no primary projects in Central Alberta. Redevelopment of the Red Deer Regional Hospital was a prioritized project in previous capital planning documents. Somehow, Central Alberta has fallen off of the list.”
Jim said there is a lot more information that he and others in the group would like to share with the public, so they are encouraging residents to attend. “They can then be really informed about what is going on,” he said.
“We are certainly concerned about space in general at the hospital, and wait times in emergency and wait times to get beds in the hospital,” he said. Another issue connected to capacity is that half of the patients in the hospital are from surrounding areas around Red Deer, so it’s all the more challenging to keep up with the demand for services.
Jim also said if there was greater capacity in Red Deer, it would only help take pressure of hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary as well.
Putting more resources where the patients are is a major point in all of this, he said. “It’s something that has been overlooked for along period of time actually.
“We’re also hoping for a huge turn-out for the meeting. It’s one of those things where the community has to show it has concerns over this as well.”
Also, according to a document called ‘Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre Service & Program Expansion’ dated December of 2015, the need for more services is evident.
“The Central zone population is (als0) expected to significantly increase within the next 20 years from the current 470,000 to 480,000 in 2035, with biggest growth in the 65+ cohorts.”
For more information, find them on facebook at ‘Diagnosis Critical – Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital’.