Red Deer Regional Hospital (RDRH) is the fourth busiest hospital in Alberta, serving close to one half million Central Albertans. Unfortunately the pace of population growth in the last 15-20 years has outpaced health care financing in Central Alberta. Central Zone is hundreds of millions of dollars short on infrastructure funding.
This translates into longer wait times, and traveling long distances for care. Emergent surgeries are often delayed by days and elective surgeries are often cancelled, prolonging wait times. Ambulances can be detained for long periods at the Red Deer Emergency, leaving our communities without care. Diagnostic imaging services can take weeks to access. Heart attack patients requiring emergency treatment with cardiac catheterization must be sent to Edmonton, as this service is not available in Red Deer.
As you can see, the diagnosis is critical. What’s the solution?
Since before 2008, the Red Deer Regional has been working on a master plan calling for service development. In 2014 there was extensive consultation and throughout that time physicians understood that RDRH was third on the list of major sites needing infrastructure development. Even as recent as 2015 when the capital list was changed to no longer show priorities, RDRH was still on the list.
And then, in 2016 the government’s ‘Capital Submission Priorities’ document materialized, and RDRH is no longer on the list.
Out of 21 priority projects none involve new infrastructure, beds or programs in the Central Zone; nine projects are in Edmonton, seven in Calgary, one is listed in Lethbridge, and four projects of a provincial scope, are mostly located in Edmonton.
Why is Red Deer not on the list? If it was because they did not have a business case, many projects listed did not have one. If it was because the Central Zone did not have a zone plan, the only zone plan was in Edmonton, yet projects in Calgary were approved. Or, if it was because these projects were allowed due to being part of a site specific plan, RDRH has had various site planning processes over the past 10 years.
Central Albertans are not getting the health care they have rightfully earned. Health care delivery in the Central Zone has lacked for a generation and will again be pushed back for another generation with the current plan. We need this NDP government to fully commit to the Central Zone, and to Central Albertans, for the redevelopment and expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
Don MacIntyre, MLA
#2, 160 Hewlett Park Landing
Sylvan Lake, AB