For the second time in 24 hours, and the third time in two weeks, Calgary police launched a search for a patient who walked away from the Rockyview General Hospital Wednesday morning.
Less than two weeks ago, 68-year-old Wayne Pratt walked away from Rockyview.
Pratt's body was later found in Glenmore Reservoir. He was suffering from dementia.
A second patient walked away from Rockyview on Tuesday night. He was found safe Wednesday afternoon near the Calgary Tower in good health.
The 71-year-old man, who also suffers from dementia, left the hospital at 5:30 p.m. MT.
Then, on Wednesday, a 69-year-old man wandered away. He was found two hours later at Chinook Mall.
Dr. Francois Bellanger, senior vice-president and medical director for the Calgary zone at Alberta Health Services, says patients are only kept in secure areas if they are in the hospital for mental health problems.
He says patients who are admitted for medical treatment are free to come and go.
Opposition parties react
The health critic for the Wildrose Party, Heather Forsythe, says these incidents highlight the need to move older patients to long-term care facilities instead of hospitals.
"The government continues to say that they are going to build more continuing-care beds," says Forsythe.
"The patients that we are seeing right now don't fit into a continuing care model, so they end up in an acute setting, which is the hospital, when they should really, truly be in a long-term care nursing bed. It's unthinkable and quite frankly deplorable what this government is doing to our seniors."
Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann says the incidents at the Rockyview hospital point to problems with how the Conservative government manages health care in Alberta.
"It's very troubling. It reflects, again, a government that hasn't planned for a health-care system that has more and more demands from seniors and mentally ill," says Swann.
"We don't have the resources, so we are pushing people into hospitals, acute care wards that can't cope with confused elderly people."
Swann speculates that the public only hears about the worst cases that come to police attention.
The Liberal MLA says the province needs to spend more on long-term care facilities, family doctors, home care nurses nurse practitioners and prevention programs.