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Standalone Stollery hospital project to receive $17M in upcoming Alberta budget

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The standalone Stollery Children's Hospital project will receive more funding in the upcoming provincial budget, the minister of health announced Tuesday.

In 2021, Alberta began investing in a new, standalone Stollery hospital. If passed, the upcoming budget will bring the four-year investment total to $21 million.

"Building a standalone Stollery will not only enhance pediatric care, but will also significantly contribute to broader patient capacity in Edmonton," said LaGrange.

The new facility would focus on the physical and mental wellness of children, integrating mental health resources, according to Karen Faulkner, the interim CEO of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. It would also include spaces specifically made for children and families, along with research and training facilities.

"Children's hospitals are special, they make kids feel special and help take away some of the feelings of being so lost and so alone," said Faulkner. "They make families as comfortable as possible during the hardest time of their life and they bring hope."

"Imagine the relief of stepping outside with your child, breathing clean air surrounded by peace, a purpose built Stollery would not only offer a family focused environment, but also quicker access to care, minimizing the wait times and maximize recovery chances," added Shelley Cormier, a parent of two children who have been treated at the Stollery.

The existing Stollery has 236 beds that, once the new facility is built, can be put to use for other patients.

"By freeing up the existing space, we can reallocate resources to better serve adult patients, ensuring improved health-care services in Edmonton and the surrounding areas," added LaGrange.

In recent months, health-care professionals have expressed concern over staff shortages and overtaxed hospitals.

"We currently have several initiatives going that are looking at recruiting new staff," said Dr. Lyle Oberg, the executive board chair for Alberta Health Services. "In the last 10 days we've hired 250 more frontline staff.

"We recognize that we need it and we recognize that we need more full-time staff and we are certainly moving in that direction."

"The college of physicians and surgeons have streamlined their processes, in particular with physicians, and I know that in the last six months alone they have registered over 300 physicians to practice in Alberta, of which about 170 were family physicians and that number continues to grow," added LaGrange.

There are "no timelines at this point in time" for a completion date for the standalone Stollery, as "more planning" still needs to be done, according to Lagrange.

"This level of planning will now go into the next stage where it really starts to look at where will this facility go? What is going to be incorporated within the walls of that facility," said LaGrange. "Before it was conceptual, now we're making it become very real."

"We are ready to work with (the government) to bring this vision to life and when the time is right, to raise up to $250 million from the community towards the new hospital," added Faulkner. 

On Tuesday, LaGrange also announced work on the south Edmonton hospital project has been paused "to have a more comprehensive look at how we can better serve the needs of Edmontonians."

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