N.E. hospital getting women's health overhaul

The provincial government is spending almost $12 million to improve the women's health program at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, officials announced on Thursday.
The provincial government is spending almost $12 million to improve the women's health program at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary.

The provincial government is spending almost $12 million to improve the women's health program at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, officials announced on Thursday.

The money is going to be used for obstetrical services, redeveloping the neonatal unit, the labour facilities and a dedicated operating room at the northeast hospital, Alberta Health Services (AHS) officials said.

The 32,000-square foot project, which is still in the design phase, will see most of the third floor at the Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC) renovated, officials said.

"This expansion and redevelopment will help us better serve our growing population," said Dr. Doug Wilson, who is in charge of obstetrics and gynecology for AHS.

Calgary's birth rate has increased in the past decade from 12,000 births a year to nearly 18,000. It's estimated to hit 20,000 new babies a year by 2015.

Dr. Rupinder Toor Mangat, who works at the Northeast Calgary Women's Clinic, said her community clinic can't handle any more new baby examinations.

"I think the northeast part of town, we do have a slightly higher fertility rate so a lot more of the new babies are being born in this area of town," she said. "And as far as providers that are providing obstetric care, we definitely have less providers at the PLC compared to the other hospitals."

PLC will deliver nearly 1,200 more babies a year

But the redevelopment at the hospital — which will include five more labour and delivery rooms — doesn't mean new moms will get to linger in hospital.

Wilson said Calgary has the shortest post-birth stay in the country.

"By getting them out into the community, getting their care back at home, it allows us to use the physical plant more efficiently," he said.

Construction is slated to begin by the end of the year.

The PLC now delivers 5,835 babies annually. The expansion will provide capacity for 7,000 births per year, officials said.