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Province closing 300 acute-care beds

Alberta is closing 300 acute-care hospital beds over three years as theprovince’s health superboard struggles with a $1-billion deficit.

Alberta is closing 300 acute-care hospital beds over three years as the province’s health superboard struggles with a $1-billion deficit.

The move drew an immediate outcry yesterday from Friends of Medicare and others who said the beds are sorely needed in overcrowded hospitals.

Dr. Stephen Duckett, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said the hospital beds would be reopened if the situation became critical or if there were a serious outbreak of swine flu in the province.

“If we need those beds to provide acute care a week or six months or a year from now, we will use them,” Duckett told a news conference.

Elderly patients who are in acute-care beds due to space shortages will be transferred as the planned 800 new assisted-living beds in new private facilities open, and the hospital beds they leave will be mothballed.

David Eggen of Friends of Medicare called it a shell game. “Moving funds from public hospitals to private contractors is an attempt to hijack public health care,” he said.

The bed shuffle is expected to save roughly $50 million within three years.

But NDP health critic Rachel Notley said moving people out of acute beds could also result in elderly patients getting less care than they need.

“Assisted living and designated assisted living are not regulated,” she said. “There are no staffing requirements.”

 
 
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