WATCH: Opposition parties hammered the PCs today on health infrastructure problems brought to light by an Edmonton Journal series. Eric Szeto explains.
EDMONTON — An Alberta Health Services review shows infrastructure problems exist at every Edmonton-area health facility. At some of the biggest hospitals, it appears those problems hamper staff’s ability to treat patients.
AHS has released two reports (both of which can be read in their entirety below): “Phase 1 Current State report” provides a snapshot of the current condition of 18 local facilities, and “Edmonton Zone 2030 Plan” looks at potential strategies to improve service delivery and relieve capacity pressures at those facilities.
There are overlapping themes throughout the reports; capacity issues, poor design, inefficiencies for many of the facilities. The Royal Alexandra and the Misericordia hospitals have the most problems. The reports suggest in some instances, the buildings lead to surgery and cancer treatment delays.
On Monday night, Mariusz Babij witnessed some of the delays that occur first-hand. He says he spent 12 hours waiting at the Royal Alex emergency room with his brother’s pregnant fiancée. When a doctor saw the pregnant woman, it was in an eye exam room. Babij calls the situation ridiculous.
“The doctor even said, we’re pretty much servicing a third world country hospital health care right now…because we cannot put you in a room. If you’re going to need an IV…it’s going to be about a five-hour wait before we can get you in a bed.'”
WATCH: One man speaks out after waiting 12 hours in an Edmonton ER with his pregnant family member
Dr. David Mador, who is the medical director for northern Alberta, maintains that while “some sites have a long list of identified issued…that’s not necessarily a cause for alarm.”
“There are of course improvements and changes and investments to be made,” added Chief Health Operations Officer Deb Gordon. “But it’s important Alberta know they will receive excelled care.”
During Tuesday’s Question Period at the legislature, health minister Stephen Mandel was hammered on this issue from all opposition parties. He said that the government is spending a lot of money “but there is a lot of need” and it will have to “find a way to meet those needs.”
The NDP says this report shows infrastructure is about more than fixing old buildings.
“These problems didn’t develop overnight,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley.
“They developed over decades of neglect, intentional neglect on the part of this government.”
The Wildrose, meanwhile, is calling on the province to “immediately release a public prioritized infrastructure project list.”
“The only way to stop any government from politicizing infrastructure spending is to outline the priority of all requested capital projects across the province and release the full list to the public,” the party’s leader, Danielle Smith said.
“It will provide cost savings and is the first step in addressing the growing crisis facing our hospitals from across the province.”
The AHS report does look at some solutions. It identifies a host of upgrades and new facilities AHS feels it needs. The province has already contributed $260 million to those.
“We believe in the long run, Edmonton is going to need additional acute care capacity,” said Gordon.
“We will need a new facility in addition to enhanced capacity at the Mis and the Alex. But right now, because of the age of those two buildings, those are our two priorities,” added Mador.
The document is intended as a guide for the health authority and a report card for interested Albertans. AHS says it will build on this information and re-evaluate it every five years.
In the short term, the Edmonton Zone 2030 report suggests 180 potential projects which could address some of the problems identified.
Read the two full reports below:
With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News and The Canadian Press