April 9, 2015 7:39 pm
Updated: April 9, 2015 8:50 pm

Doctors demand answers over unfinished renovations at Calgary hospital


Two of Calgary’s top doctors are calling attention to an election promise they say has gone unfulfilled for more than seven years – the completion of a half-built wing at Peter Lougheed Centre.

Dr. Neil Collins and Dr. Steve Patterson spoke out in an exclusive interview with Global Calgary’s Heather Yourex.

They said a major 2007 renovation, meant to increase emergency treatment space and reduce wait times, is sitting empty and unfinished.

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“That space that you see on this side is empty there’s nothing, that’s an exterior wall with nothing on the interior,” said Dr. Patterson, pointing at the unfinished wing on the east side of the hospital.

“The actual emergency department is inside the hospital where it was 10 years ago,” said Patterson, who leads the Peter Lougheed Medical Staff Association.

Instead of providing relief, the doctors said, the unfinished project has become an obstacle, because it sits between the current emergency department and the hospital’s ambulance bays.

“For example, on my last shift we had two patients who were requiring acute resuscitation,” said Dr. Neil Collins, who heads up the Peter Lougheed Centre emergency department. “Our paramedics had to provide their emergency care (rolling) down a hallway for 150 metres before they could get to where the doctors and the resuscitation rooms are.”

For years, doctors have asked for help, calling on the province to provide more space at PLC, which has the least emergency space in the city.

“The Peter Lougheed emergency department is the busiest emergency department in the city of Calgary,” said Dr. Patterson. “We have on average 250 visits a day.”

Last month, the province announced plans to expand emergency departments once again.

In an e-mail, a spokeperson for the health ministry said, “The $50 million in funding for emergency renovations at PLC and the other sites is enough for the four projects based on a specific estimate of the planned work at each site.”

“It’s important to be clear, the money isn’t simply being split four ways equally, and PLC is the largest project,” Steve Buick wrote.

But Dr. Patterson and Dr. Collins believe it will take more than the full $50 million to get the empty wing ready for patients.

Without a greater commitment, they fear the needs of the hospital will continue to go unfulfilled.

“A lot of the patients don’t have a choice about where they can go to, and they are subjected to unreasonably long waits and they’re subjected to care in a space that isn’t optimally designed for emergency care management,” said Dr. Collins. “We certainly would be able to give care that is more efficient more timely and given in a more dignified space if we had the appropriate number and appropriate size of treatment spaces.”

According to the two physicians, the Peter Lougheed emergency department currently has 34 beds, but 20 beds are almost always filled with patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital.

That leaves just 14 beds for the more than 250 patients that come through each day.

To properly cope with that many visits, Collins says the emergency department needs 46 more beds.

This article is not written or edited by Global News. The author is solely responsible for the content. © Mia Sosiak, 2015

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