Thursday, April 9, 2009

Update on Local Health Care issues

I just picked up my local newspaper and our Regional Hospital is not going ahead with previous plans to expand. Excerpts:

""Health Minister Ron Liepert confirmed Wednesday that Medicine Hat Regional Hospital will not be expanding as planned.

...The $280 million previously set aside for the project remains, but it could be closer to 5 years, rather than three, before the government may be in a position to flow the funding forward...

"I've got to tell you that just because something was proposed several years ago, it doesn't necessarily mean that we're bound to that in the future", he [Liepert] said. "I'm not going to be known 20 years down the road as the guy that just simply built hospitals..."

The comments were devastating to former Palliser Health Region board chair Carol Secondiak, who spent years fighting for the project. "It's been planned and planned and planned to death. But when times were good, we got nothing. Now it's bad and we still get nothing..."

Secondiak said a lot of money has been spent planning and reviewing the project, which the government previously listed as a priority. It is unclear how the status changed.

Mayor Norm Boucher says with the decrease in construction costs, now is the time to move forward... And with the growth of our community - not to mention Brooks mothers who now have to come to Medicine Hat to deliver their babies [I recently blogged about the closure of the Brooks Maternity ward], an increase in facility space is becoming more pressing.

Liepert also confirmed Wednesday the Bow Island Hospital remains under review to determine what services should be available in the future....Secondiak called it "the beginning of the end for small hospitals""

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