Emergency room expansion, mental health ICU coming to Calgary’s PLC hospital

Click to play video 'Millions to be invested into ER, mental health services at Calgary’s PLC hospital' Millions to be invested into ER, mental health services at Calgary’s PLC hospital
WATCH: A multi-million dollar makeover is coming for one of our city's busiest emergency rooms after the provincial government announced $137 in renovations and expansion at the Peter Lougheed Centre. Jill Croteau reports. – Feb 19, 2020

Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre hospital is getting some major improvements to its emergency and mental health departments, including a mental health intensive care unit, thanks to new funding from the province.

The government announced Wednesday that $137 million would be invested in the hospital, which opened in 1988, to expand its emergency department as well as build a mental health ICU and expand the mental health short-stay unit.

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“For years, Calgarians have been calling for the Peter Lougheed Centre to be expanded, and our government is delivering,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a news release.

“We are committed to making long-term capital investments in the facilities that Albertans need to stay healthy, strengthening public health care and improving access to the services that matter most.”

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According to the government, the PLC saw nearly 82,000 emergency visits in 2018-2019, adding it’s “one of the busiest and most congested emergency departments in the province.”

 “The overcrowding of this emergency ward is obviously hard on patients who are in medical distress and it’s hard on the dedicated nurses, doctors and other care providers who work here,” Kenney told reporters.

The emergency department will be expanded by 1,500 square metres, the province said, and include new triage and trauma areas as well as a new, closer ambulance drop-off area.

The province also said mental health emergency visits at the Peter Lougheed Centre have gone up by more than one-third over the past five years, and the short-stay unit is at more than 100 per cent capacity on a regular basis.

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“This expansion will greatly benefit both patients and staff today and in the future, by ensuring our health-care infrastructure and services keep up with the growing needs of people in Calgary,” Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said.

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The hospital’s current lab will also be replaced with a new rapid-response lab, the government said, which will “provide immediate test results.”

Design work is expected to get underway “soon,” the government said, and the first phase of construction is scheduled to start in 2022. The funding comes in addition to $20.6 billion already budgeted for health services, the province said.