Minister dismisses Strathmore Hospital concerns
Discussion over the Strathmore Hospital and the need for expansion has been an ongoing one, spanning over many years. On Nov. 21 that discussion was once again brought to the Legislature during question period by Strathmore-Brooks MLA Jason Hale.
Councillor Bob Sobol and Mayor Michael Ell had both seen the broadcast of the questions and responses and both had concerns with the responses by Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale.
The Strathmore Hospital was constructed in 1985 and since that time has not been modified or expanded, even though it has the second busiest emergency room in Alberta, seeing 31,000 to 33,000 patients each year.
The Alberta Health Services (AHS) capital plan states that many of these facilities are functionally and physically obsolete, creating increased health and safety issues. Hale wanted to know when this would be fixed.
“Well Mr. Speaker here we go again asking for more, they want new hospitals, they want new schools, they want to cut the budget they just keep asking for things Mr. Speaker 1985 isn’t that old of a building, there are lots of hospitals and schools way older than that,” said Drysdale.
“And Health Services, whether they believe it or not Mr. Speaker, they don’t seem to believe anything we say, but Alberta Health Services is given a budget to maintain the facilities and they are given plenty of money a year from infrastructure and it is up to Alberta Health to maintain their hospitals.”
Hale continued on with his next question: “Given that the population of Strathmore has grown three to four times since it (the hospital) was built in 1985 and given that in 2006 the health region study recommended significant expansion to the emergency room, acute care, laboratory and diagnostic imaging and given that since this report the hospital has not received any new capital funding to expand, when is the Minister going to address this critical need?”
Minster of Health Fred Horne responded saying that AHS is very aware of the growth in Strathmore and in fact Strathmore has become a regional centre for health care that is serving a large number of residents who are in the southern part of Calgary.
“Mr. Speaker there has been great progress in preparing for the expansion for Strathmore for the future from a brand new continuing care facility recently opened on land adjacent to the hospital. Thirty residents who lived in the hospital in long term care are moving to that brand new facility making room for expansion,” said Horne.
Hale’s final question was given that Strathmore is number two on the Calgary zone priority list, he wanted to know how a hospital of this size is an AHS priority but is nowhere to be found on the government’s capital plan.
Drysdale was once again aloof and almost dismissive in his response. He stated that they work closely with AHS on their priorities, but Strathmore is number two in this area, not number one, and there is a whole big province with lots of demands with high growing areas, and he guarantees some growing just as fast if not faster. Drysdale said they are trying to build Alberta as fast as they can but he feels Wildrose is saying one minute that the government is building to fast, and then not enough.
“It’s hard to understand what they’re asking for,” said Drysdale.
“It was the whole tone that really concerned me. I felt as a person from Strathmore I was actually embarrassed and disappointed in Mr. Drysdale’s comments,” said Sobol.
He took it upon himself as a citizen to write a letter to the premier outlining his regret in how the hospital and Strathmore’s situation, which has been ongoing for years, is being looked upon by a minster in the premier’s cabinet.
“I felt that Minister Drysdale was not taking our concerns in regards to our hospital seriously. I was very disappointed to see a Minister talk about our hospital in that fashion and kudos to our MLA Jason Hale for attempting to have some action taken to improvements in our hospital,” said Ell.
Administration was directed to write a letter speaking about how they feel about Minister Drysdale’s comments.