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Alberta aims to build top heart-care centre in western Canada

EDMONTON – Alberta announced that it will invest $36.5 million of this year’s projected multi-billion dollar surplus to expand the Mazankowski Heart Institute – part of a plan to transform the centre into the top cardiac care facility in western Canada.

The money will be used to complete three additional levels at the facility. The extra space will allow researchers now working at the University Hospital to move their work into the institute and free up hospital space for clinical care.

The new levels at the heart institute will house a virtual cardiac centre, specialized testing and imaging services, research programs and regional cardiac rehabilitation.

Health Minister Ron Liepert made the announcement at the institute, saying the move should allay fears expressed by some that the province’s decision to disband the health regions and create one health “superboard” could one day take away from Edmonton’s reputation as a centre of excellence in health research.

“I don’t think there’s a better way we can demonstrate our commitment to this city and to this region in terms of continued research than the announcement we’re making today,” he said.

Dr. Arvind Koshal, chief of cardiovascular surgery and director of development and external affairs for the Mazankowski Heart Institute, said the new funding could make the institute one of the top cardiac care facilities in the world.

“It means we can create a truly integrated cardiac care centre of excellence with everything under one roof – the clinicians and the researchers who study the human heart.It allows us not to just work together, but side-by-side,” he said.

“We don’t want to be just a world-class building, we want it to be a world-class heart institute.”

Liepert said this will be one of several health funding announcements to be made in the near future, as the provincial government prepares its quarterly financial report.