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Government & policy

Alberta pumps $2.2 billion into rural facilities

EDMONTON – The government of Alberta is moving ahead with a $2.4 billion investment in health facility projects in several medium-sized cities and rural locations. The investments are part of Phase One of the government’s 2010-2013 Health Capital Plan.

Altogether, 22 facility projects in 15 communities are included in Phase One. These projects reflect more than $1.4 billion for the planning, design and construction of these facilities. Phase One also includes an additional $1 billion for maintenance, transition initiatives, and technology and equipment purchases and replacement.

“Visiting facilities around the province and talking to patients, healthcare providers and planners was time well spent,” said Health and Wellness Minister Gene Zwozdesky (pictured), who personally visited 45 locations.

“These projects contribute directly to helping fulfill our Premier’s vision of having the best-performing publicly funded health system in Canada,” said Zwozdesky. “Now we need to conclude consultations with health professionals and administrators in Edmonton and Calgary so we can roll-out Phase Two of our Health Capital Plan.”

A few of the highlights from Phase One of the Health Capital Plan include:

• $200 million (approx.) total provincial support for redevelopment of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, which will begin immediately. This total includes $43.5 million out of the 2010-13 Plan, which is an increase of $33.5 million from the 2009-12 Plan in order to accelerate the project. Phase One of the redevelopment will include renovations to create additional ambulatory treatment space. Planning and preparations for the larger redevelopment will continue. That redevelopment will focus on improvements to ambulatory care, maternity services, emergency department and operating rooms. Construction is anticipated to begin in Summer 2011 and conclude in 2013.

• $108 million to build a new health centre in Edson. This total includes $73 million allocated out of the 2010-13 Plan, which is an increase of $70 million from the 2009-12 Plan in order to build a new facility rather than upgrading the current facility. Construction is anticipated to start in Spring 2012 and be completed in Spring 2014. The health centre will be built on a new site to provide healthcare services and programs to meet the needs of the community, including acute care, emergency and outpatient services. Community care services (such as mental health, addictions treatment, newborn follow up, etc.) will be consolidated and expanded.

• $90 million to build a new health centre in High Prairie to replace the existing complex and the J.B. Wood Nursing Home. The $90 million includes an increase of $26.2 million to reflect the new estimate for the total cost of the project. $31.6 million in funding is provided in the 2010-13 Plan. Construction is anticipated to begin in Spring 2011 and be completed in Spring 2013. The new High Prairie Health Centre will be built on a new site and will include a wide range of health services such as acute care, continuing care and community health programs.

• $520 million to build a new regional hospital in Grande Prairie, which will include a state-of-the-art cancer centre. This funding will provide: a 200 acute-care bed regional hospital built on a new site near the Grande Prairie Regional College; the Grande Prairie Cancer Centre project, complete with two cancer radiation vaults; and a health workforce training component in partnership with the Grande Prairie Regional College. Soil testing and site work will begin as soon as possible. Construction of the new hospital is anticipated to begin in 2011 and some healthcare services at the new facility should be available by late fall 2014.

• Renovations already underway at the existing Queen Elizabeth II hospital, where about 150 beds are currently in use, will continue.

The three-year Health Capital Plan also includes an additional $375 million for vaccines, health system development, diagnostic imaging strategy and electronic health records.

Phase Two of the 2010-13 Health Capital Plan will include details of projects in Calgary and Edmonton that are part of the three-year plan.

Posted July 29, 2010