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‘Voice of Alex’ campaign uses puppet to push for funding for Royal Alexandra Hospital redevelopment

Click to play video: 'Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation embarks on ambitious funding drive' Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation embarks on ambitious funding drive
WATCH ABOVE: The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation says it needs more than $1 billion to redevelop its aging infrastructure. Quinn Ohler has more on their funding campaign and the unique voice they're using to help get their message across – Jan 24, 2017

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation has launched a new campaign that uses a puppet to draw attention to the infrastructure funding it says it needs to redevelop the hospital.

The “Voice of Alex” campaign uses a custom-built puppet named Alex to voice the concerns of the RAHF on several social media platforms.

“For over 20 years I’ve been told that I’m at the top of the list for health infrastructure spending. But here’s the thing – I’m still waiting to be funded,” Alex said in a video posted online Tuesday.

“I look like Northlands Coliseum when really, I should look like Rogers Place.”

READ MORE: Alberta ministers say new infrastructure funds go to ‘needs assessments’ for Royal Alex, Misericordia

The hospital-shaped puppet has a crack above her right eye and in some videos, a bandage covers the crack. The RAHF is calling on people to contact their local MLAs to push the government for funding. And who better to speak for the hospital than the hospital itself, RAHF CEO said Tuesday.

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“I’m doing this for the patients that count on me. They deserve better,” Alex the puppet said. “I just can’t stay silent anymore.”

“I don’t need another government study or assessment. I need shovels in the ground.”

READ MORE: Royal Alex renovation won’t be cheap and won’t be quick: AHS

The Royal Alexandra Hospital was designed in the 1950s and built in the early 1960s. While it has seen upgrades over the years, the RAHF said the hospital does not meet today’s standards of care.

“We’ve had floods, we’ve had fires. We’ve had to shut down our in-patient units temporarily. We have four, and often five patients in a room which poses significant risks in terms of infection control,” Andrew Otway, president and CEO of the RAHF, said Tuesday.

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The foundation said it needs $1 billion for phase one of redevelopment, which would see construction of a new, 800-bed hospital tower. The tower would house a new emergency department, additional surgical suites and acute care beds.

READ MORE: 1 in 12 Canadian adults in hospital infected with superbug, study finds

Phase one would also see a new child mental health facility, clinical services building and a new parkade. Some existing and unused buildings would also be demolished.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman provided the following statement to Global News:

“The former government neglected Edmonton’s hospitals for many years, failing to make investments to meet the growing and changing health needs of Albertans. I can assure the public that improving hospital infrastructure is one of our top priorities.”

A report released by Alberta Health Services in October said a new hospital is needed in Edmonton to meet future demand. The report recommended scaling back upgrades to the Royal Alex and Misericordia Community hospitals, to instead focus on a new Edmonton Health Campus, which would include inpatient beds, emergency care, rehabilitation, mental health diagnostic and ambulatory services.

READ MORE: New hospital needed in Edmonton; calls to scale back Royal Alex, Misericordia: AHS

Also in October 2016, the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s emergency room reopened following a $3.85-million expansion.

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In the Alberta NDP’s 2015 budget, $10 million was allocated to plan for repairs at the Royal Alex.

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