September 1, 2020 @ 5:25 PM
If you’ve visited the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre lately, you’re well aware that it has been undergoing renovations for quite a while. We talked to Tracy Kennedy, Senior Communications Advisor for the Central Zone at Alberta Health Services, and asked her what the future holds for our hospital, especially during the current health crisis.
Kennedy explained that the renovations are now in their third phase. Phase one included building a new pharmacy and relocating the gift shop. The cafeteria, lab entrance, offices, and x-ray waiting room were also modified during this phase to make more room for the emergency department renovations. Phase two saw the construction of two new labour and delivery suites this February. Now new families don’t need to move around the hospital just after birth, but can receive postpartum care in a secure, private area.
The third and current phase of renovations is focused on the emergency department, improving “visibility, accessibility, security, workflow and patient care,” according to Kennedy. The hospital has created a temporary ER while this work is being done. Patients and visitors must access it through the main entrance, not the ambulance bay as they previously could. AHS anticipates that this third phase will be finished by July 2021.
Phase three is about a year’s worth of work, and would have been started in March 2020 but for the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital and healthcare construction all over Alberta was halted for a few months in order to minimize the spread of the virus, as healthcare workers focused on prevention. Kennedy reassured us that all hospital workers, including contractors and vendors, are now screened to be “fit for work” and must follow Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) protocols, which you can read more about here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/page6410.aspx. Boards separating the construction areas from patient areas also help keep the hospital safe by reducing the number of people in contact with one another.
These renovations altogether will total $9.3 million of funding from the Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP). “AHS, Alberta Health and Alberta Infrastructure work together to identify which renovation projects will receive IMP funding,” Kennedy explained. “Projects are prioritized based on feedback from site administration, staff, and the community,” and in this case, “eighteen stakeholder groups were engaged to review the use of space and identify priority areas for improved access and quality of service.”
We may have to be patient while the work gets done carefully and safely, but by next summer, we should all be reaping the benefits of a brand new emergency department at Stettler Hospital and Care Centre.