Medicine Hat



AHS announced the closure of 36 public long-term care beds at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. The majority of beds will be moved to Masterpiece Southland Meadows, forcing patients into a private-care setting.

FAQ for Patients and Their Loved Ones

at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital

Who is impacted by these closures?

Patients in Unit 6 West are in the area of the hospital affected by these closures. This unit is also known as the palliative care wing of the hospital. Unit 6 West includes palliative care beds and Alternate Level of Care (ACL) beds.

Albertans who need this level of care are vulnerable and re-location can be stressful for patients and their families.

Alternate Level of Care identifies a person who has completed the acute care phase of treatment but remains in an acute or sub-acute care bed while awaiting transfer to an appropriate accommodation, depending on what kind of care they require.

Palliative Care refers to patients who have been diagnosed by a physician or nurse practitioner as being in the end stage of a terminal illness or disease and for whom the focus of care is palliation and not treatment aimed at a cure.

How many public beds are being closed?

AHS announced the closure of 36 public long-term care beds at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. The majority of beds will be moved to Masterpiece Southland Meadows, forcing patients into a private-care setting.

Will prescription drug coverage change for Albertans currently in care at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital?

Yes. Without national pharmacare, the only place where medically necessary prescriptions are covered for everyone is in a public hospital. Step outside the hospital and into community care or private facilities and coverage no longer apply.

When Albertans in palliative or restorative care are moved out of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, the cost of medication is transferred directly to patients and their loved ones.

What's the difference between a public bed in a hospital and one in a private care setting? Isn't it all the same?

No. They cost more and less care may be provided.

CHANGES IN COST: Private care beds typically costs thousands of dollars per month in rent, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other expenses. Private operators like Masterpiece Southland Meadows get public funding from Alberta Health, but they're for-profit businesses.

CHANGES IN CARE: Quality of care at privately operated facilities, despite hardworking staff doing their best with limited resources, is also a serious issue. Profit motives have been shown to have negative impacts on the quality of care people get. For example, a University of Alberta study found private seniors care operators provide less care, are not as efficient and are not at all transparent compared to publicly-run facilities. The study found public facilities provide on average an additional hour of direct care compared to other ownership types.

Understaffing, training and safety are also issues that have plagued private residential care facilities.

If private beds get public funding, shouldn't they provide the same level of quality care?

Current government regulations allow funding for front-line seniors care workers to be held back by operators as profit or diverted for other purposes. This encourages operators to cut corners, and that means cutting care for vulnerable Albertans in residential care.

Whose fault is this…the current government or past governments?

The trend of health care privatization started by the Progressive Conservative government. But it is being maintained under the current New Democratic Party government. The closure of these 36 public beds is a reversal of the NDP's promise to create 2,000 more public long-term care beds in Alberta.

Have there been other public bed closures?

Red Deer, Carmangay and Strathmore faced similar closures, without consultations, under the PC government. This direction continued under the NDP with public long-term care bed closures in Sundre in 2016 and now Medicine Hat.

What can we do to stop the closure of these public beds?

Here are three things you can do right now:

  1. AUPE, the union that represents 23 healthcare workers in the West Unit, is looking at challenging the closure at the Labour Relations Board. You can sign up to get a text alert when the date and time of the hearing are announced so you can attend as a member of the public.
  2. You can make your feelings known to Alberta's Health Minister by sending a letter today to the Honourable Sarah Hoffman.
  3. You can sign and circulate the petition calling for ______________.