An estimated 60,000 patients are expected to seek treatment in the coming year at Calgary's South Health Campus emergency room — which opened for business Monday morning.
The emergency services now available at Calgary's newest hospital, which opened its doors last September, are expected to alleviate wait times across the city.
With 30 beds, it's smaller than other emergency rooms in the city but it has the capacity to expand to 60 beds in the future.
"As an emergency-trained physician, I know what can walk through the door and that's just about anything," said Dr. Colin Del Castilho, the physician in charge at the site.
"So we're ready to go, we're well trained, we're well staffed."
The new department has hired 160 new staff members over the last 18 months, including 35 ER doctors.
Hospital to be fully operational by September
"It's unprecedented to try and hire 35 emergency physicians over that time period," said Del Castilho. "Things have gone really well from a physician recruitment standpoint."
But inpatient beds are not yet open, meaning anyone who comes to the ER and needs to be admitted will be sent to another hospital.
Del Castilho says 80 per cent will be treated and sent home, and the hospital will take care of patient transfers.
The hospital — including the emergency room and other services such as additional care units, new operating rooms and obstetrics — is scheduled to be fully operational in September.
"To see this facility go from a farmer's field to a nine-story massive complex with an incredible amount of technology — who wouldn't be excited to work here," said Del Castilho.
The hospital also caters to children, with an emergency pediatric team at the hospital for 12 hours a day.
Other services now available
Several other services at the hospital also opened on Monday, including mental health emergency services, pulmonary diagnostics, cardiac diagnostics, the Bone and Joint Cast Clinic and the Rapid Access Unit.
"Though we’ve been opening services and programs steadily since the fall, we have treated a lot of patients and have helped to enhance the health-care system in several key areas," said Lori Anderson, vice president of the South Health Campus, in a release.
The Rapid Access Unit, or RAU, houses 20 short-stay beds for patients who require medical assessment for up to 48 hours.
It will allow patients to be moved from the emergency department for further observation and diagnosis by doctors and nurses.
Alberta Health Services says more inpatient care units will open in six-week waves, with the next wave set to begin at the end of February.
Officials say there will be 269 fully-operational inpatient beds at the South Health Campus by the end of the year.