A multi-phase project underway at the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre is entering the home stretch.
The third of three phases, the construction of a new food service area and cafeteria, is currently under construction at the site with an estimated completion date of fall 2022.
Phase one of the approximately $11.8 million total renovation began in 2019 with an update and upgrade to the hospitals labour and delivery rooms and update to the pharmacy and gift shop.
In labour and delivery, the update includes increased security, updated equipment and the ability to have the mother-to-be to stay in the room during the entire process rather than being shuffled from one room to another.
“That was our big goal,” said soon to be retiring site manager Diane Palmer.
“It makes it a really really nice experience. It’s so nice to have that privacy.”
The second phase of the project included an updated and expanded Emergency Room, which opened in the summer of 2021.
“We moved into the (emergency room) in June 2021,” said Palmer.
“We expanded the number of stretchers and chairs in there. It’s been very successful.”
Palmer noted in the interview that even though the hospital’s emergency department did get spread throughout the hospital during the renovations, no services were stopped.
Once the final stage of renovations is complete, the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre will be well situated for the future, according to Palmer.
“Using patient first strategies, we can provide the type of care (Alberta Health Services) wants to provide,” said Palmer.
“The renovations will help with the retention and recruitment (of staff) as well.”
The new food-service area and cafeteria is being built as an addition to the hospital and will feature a full and modernized kitchen facility for the hospital.
Since the area is being built as a new addition, care is being taken to match the exterior of the new building with the old.
While Stettler Hospital is located in a small community, due to the services it provides it does have a large catchment area, providing obstetric services for the entire east central Alberta region.
According to Palmer, the Stettler hospital sees on average 1,000 emergency room patients per month, the obstetrics department delivers around 200 babies per year, the 26 acute care beds are “always full” and 15 surgeons come out from Red Deer to utilize the facility’s two operating theatres.
“It’s a well maintained hospital,” said Palmer.
“The physicians and staff here have been outstanding. There’s always exciting things coming up.”
Palmer had said that she had intended on retiring earlier, however made the decision to stay on as site manager for three extra years to navigate the facility through the renovations.
With the renovations entering the end stages, Palmer will be entering retirement in early April.
The funding for the facility renovations was made possible through a variety of a donations, as well as a $11.2 million cash infusion from Alberta Health, Alberta Infrastructure and a $650,000 grant from the hospital foundation.