The Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC) in northeast Calgary is just days away from opening its revamped emergency department as demand for care continues to grow.
Media were given a tour of the new area on Tuesday, which is Phase 1 of a $137 million investment that was first announced in 2020, with construction starting in 2021.
The space has a larger triage area and new and modern trauma spaces. It also improves EMS access to the area with an expanded dock for unloading patients.
“The new emergency department will have a direct impact on the lives of Calgarians in need of emergency care, their families as well as staff and clinicians,” said Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange.
“When the new emergency department officially opens next week, patients and families will have access to a larger, safer and modernized facility that has been built with their needs as the top priorities.”
The new PLC will be open to patients on Aug. 29 at around 6 a.m.
When first opened in 1988, the emergency department was designed for between 30,000 and 40,000 visits annually. In 2022, there were nearly 73,000 visits to the emergency department at PLC.
Phase 2 of the project is expected to being this fall, with a completion date expected in 2025. That project will include state-of-the-art equipment to improve patient experience and decrease diagnostic wait times. That includes two new portable x-ray machines, four more bedside ultrasound machines and a bladder scanner.
That fully revamped unit will add 25 more care spaces and nearly double the overall space from 2,300 to 4,600 square feet, the province said.
According to Dr. Mark Anselmo, medical director for Alberta Health Services, that means a 40 per cent capacity increase.
“It’s an exciting and momentous day for the staff and physicians at the Peter Lougheed Centre,” he said.
Wait times at Peter Lougheed
The current emergency department staff will move over to the new area, and right now, no new staff will be added.
“We currently have enough staff to operationalize the space that we’re in,” said Nicholas Thain, senior operating officer at the Peter Lougheed Centre.
When the other phases are completed and the new spaces are added, more staff will be added, according to Thain.
The Peter Lougheed Hospital has some of the highest wait times of the Calgary hospitals. Wait times are highly dependent on the time of day and the day of the week and vary considerably.
- Data above from Empower Data, via Alberta Health Services.
Minister LaGrange said the redeveloped emergency room was long overdue and should mean better access and increased capacity to healthcare in north and east Calgary. When asked, LaGrange could specifically say why the expansion wasn’t done sooner, given the volume of visits.
“Why it was not prioritized before this, or if other areas took precedent, I don’t know that answer,” she said.
“All I know is that it was prioritized in 2020, we as a government saw the need and we’ve put the dollars behind it.”
LWC followed up with the province on the estimated wait time improvements from the full opening of the emergency department. We will add their response to this story when it’s received.