Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on February 14, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, February 14, 2011
Province opens 239 new hospital beds, on track for goal of 360
Alberta Health Services announced Monday they are on track to meet the target of opening 360 new beds in Edmonton and Calgary by the end of March.
The goal to establish more hospital beds in the province is part of a 5-Year Health Action Plan to improve healthcare in Alberta by decreasing ER wait times.
So far 239 new hospital beds have been opened since April of last year.
“I’m really pleased that the plan that was promised to be delivered on is being acted upon and we’re seeing proof of that now,” Gene Zwozdesky, minister of health and wellness, said on Monday.
“There has been a real improvement. We’re on track with these transition beds and other beds that need to be opened so that more people can be moved out of acute and people can be moved through emergency for admissions into acute.”
Although AHS isn’t yet releasing statistics to indicate how much of an improvement in wait times there’s been, Zwozdesky says the figure is “anywhere from 20 to 30% in our highest usage hospitals.”
The new beds include transition unit beds, hospice beds, medical assessment units, and detoxification and mental health beds.
Transition unit beds are used by patients who no longer require acute care but are waiting for placement in a continuing care facility.
Those beds are located in Royal Alexandra Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton and Rockyview General Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre and Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary.
The transition beds also act to free up inpatient hospital beds for patients waiting for admission from emergency departments, “easing pressure across the system.”
Of the remaining 121 beds left to open before March 31, 71 of them will be in Edmonton care centres and will include more transition beds, detoxification beds and medical observation beds.
Alberta Health Services’ 5-Year Health Action Plan also includes adding more continuing care spaces, increasing number of surgeries performed in the province, adding more mental health staff to schools and clinics, and introducing new programs to promote healthy eating and active living.
In addition to the 360 beds, 502 new continuing care beds have also been opened in Edmonton and Calgary since April 2010.
The government is committed to 5,000 new beds by 2015.
Zwozdesky says figures reflecting decreased ER wait times should be released in the next few weeks.
Click here to view the 5-Year Health Action Plan.