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How hospitals and schools are keeping up with Edmonton’s booming population

Watch above: At one Edmonton hospital, a Kindergarten class worth of babies is born every day. How are Edmonton schools and hospitals managing the boom? Laurel Gregory finds out.

EDMONTON — As Edmonton’s population continues to rise, keeping up with the population growth can be tricky for many areas, including local hospitals and schools.

On any given day, the equivalent of a Kindergarten class is born at Edmonton’s Grey Nuns Hospital alone.

“Most days we have 19 deliveries,” said Sheri McKenzie, program manager of Women’s Health at the Grey Nuns. “But we go upwards to 27, 28 a day.”

In 2013, 6,098 babies were brought into the world at the Grey Nuns. In September of this year, 587 babies were born at the hospital. And so far this October, nine sets of twins have been born at the south Edmonton facility.

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“We’re funded for 31 beds currently, but there’s not a day that we don’t go over that,” said McKenzie.

“We’re full every day. It’s like a revolving door.”

Keeping up with the baby boom isn’t only a challenge for the hospital; with dozens of babies being born on a daily basis, local schools are also feeling the pressure.

“In the community of Rutherford it’s been unprecedented growth since the school opened in 2010. Currently we have almost 800 students in our school,” said Marie Whelan, principal of Monsignor Fee Otterson Catholic School.

“In this particular Kindergarten we have 98 students.”

Three teachers instruct the 98 children, 54 of whom attend morning class. The population growth has forced the school, and many others in the city, to become creative when it comes to housing the students.

“Some of our schools have mega classes in one common area with three different instructors teaching Kindergarten, they have converted music rooms, they have been creative with scheduling,” said Debbie Engel with the Edmonton Catholic School Board.

“Necessity is definitely the mother of invention. However, I think we’re stressed to the max … We are jammed to the rafter.”

Enrolment in the Edmonton Catholic School District has increased by about 1,500 students this year. While six new schools have been announced by the province for the district, Engel doesn’t believe it’s enough to keep up with the demand.

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“I would say without a doubt this is maybe a third of what’s going to be needed in the next five years if the projections hold through for southeast Edmonton and southwest Edmonton.”

With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News.