RED DEER, AB (October 15, 2013): A new Freedom of Information request (FOIP) filed and obtained by the Wildrose Official Opposition reveals that emergency room (ER) wait times in Red Deer have dramatically increased since 2005 after years of PC mismanagement and the centralization of Alberta’s health care system.
In 2005, 61% of patients at the Red Deer Hospital were admitted within the eight-hour wait time benchmark. Despite the fact the total for annual ER visits has remained unchanged since 2005, the percentage of patients admitted within the eight-hour benchmark plummeted to 43% in 2012 and has sunk even lower in 2013 to 39%. “Alberta taxpayers continue to pay more and more for health care and keep getting worse results and Red Deer is a prime example,” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said. “Wait times in Red Deer are spiraling out of control despite record levels of health care spending. The Wildrose believes that the people of Red Deer and central Alberta deserve a health care system that puts patients first and that means addressing the looming wait-time crisis facing our province.” With Alberta Health Services failing to meet its eight-hour target for ER admissions, the average length of stay for patients at the Red Deer Hospital has skyrocketed to 14.5 hours in 2012, an increase of over six hours since 2005. “This is a sign of a broken health care system that is being held together by the heroic efforts of our front-line health care workers,” Forsyth said. “The giant AHS bureaucracy continues to grow while patients in places like Red Deer are left waiting longer and longer for the care they need.” Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle said there will be even less space for patients in need of care in Red Deer after the government’s decision to shut down the Michener Centre, which will result in an increase of seniors occupying acute care bed spaces as they wait for access to long-term care beds. According to AHS’ recent quarterly update, there are 83 people in acute care beds waiting for continuing care placement in the Central Zone, an increase of 35 people since 2012. “If you don’t take care of our seniors and ensure there are enough beds available, it means less space in our hospitals for patients who need care,” Towle said. “Until the government realizes this, corrects course and begins to decentralize decision making, wait times will continue to get worse before they get better.” Graphs of the wait time data are available here.