Calgary new south hospital starts staggered opening!

CALGARY — The first patients are now being seen at Calgary’s sprawling new hospital as the long-awaited $1.3-billion mega-complex in the city’s deep southeast opens its doors to a family medicine teaching centre and diagnostic imaging services.

The emergency department and operating rooms at the South Health Campus, meanwhile, are not set to open until early 2013 as part of the hospital’s staggered opening.

The hospital is the largest in Alberta. Once it’s fully operational, it’ll have 11 new operating rooms and 268 acute in-patient beds, along with maternity units, a neonatal intensive care unit, intensive care beds and several outpatient clinics.

“This is more than a new hospital. It’s the start of a shift that will redefine how health care is delivered in Alberta,” said Premier Alison Redford, on hand to mark the phase one opening of the medical complex.

The clinics that officially opened Thursday are part of the Family Medicine Teaching Centre, a teaching facility that combines family medical care with training for doctors in their hospital residency program. The nine family doctors now working in the clinics can see up to 4,000 new patients by July 2013, while the centre will provide teaching opportunities for seven family medicine residents.

The new diagnostic imaging services, meanwhile, features three new MRI scanners that will equal about 20,000 extra exams a year in Calgary — a 25-per-cent increase in capacity for Calgary.

Health care workers unions have raised concerns about how the province will find the 2,400 employees needed to staff the facility. AHS officials said Thursday hiring has been successful so far to meet the need and plans are well underway to recruit the remainder of staff needed for the hospital.

As the ER isn’t yet open at the hospital, patients with serious or life-threatening conditions should call 911 or go to the emergency department at the city’s other major hospitals, health authorities say.

More to come . . .

jkomarnicki@calgaryherald.com

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