Alberta has the best front-line health care workers in the world, and Alberta’s government is putting the right supports in place to ensure Albertans get the care they need when and where they need it. Expanding Chinook Regional Hospital, will provide southern Albertans with better access to a variety of services closer to home.

Alberta Health Services will invest $2 million in 2023 to plan for expanded cardiac services at the Chinook Regional Hospital. These new cardiac services are part of a plan to provide  an improved array of services for patients in the region. This strategic investment also delivers on the commitment made in the Health Care Action Plan to focus on the greatest needs of rural Albertans.

“We are making real progress to deal with the challenges facing our health care system. These targeted investments in Lethbridge and throughout southern Alberta – including this new plan for enhanced cardiac services – show our government is taking action so all Albertans will have the health care they need, when and where they need it.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

Front-line workers and residents in the southern region of the province have long advocated for increased cardiac care supports. By expanding services, patients can have faster access to the specialized care they need closer to home and will be able to see improved health outcomes as a result.

"The cardiac catheterization lab is a much-needed service here in Lethbridge and I am so thrilled that our government is funding this project. I have been working diligently with the Minister of Health to help push this project along and ensure that the people of Lethbridge have their voices heard and needs better met. I am looking forward to future announcements about this project and cannot wait for the early work to begin right away."

Nathan Neudorf, MLA for Lethbridge-East

The cardiac services plan includes six priorities to improve cardiac care in southern Alberta:                       

  • Cardiac catheterization lab – to support interventional cardiac services in the region by expanding the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge.
  • Clinical cardiology – recruiting  cardiologists and clinicians along with establishing remote real time cardiac monitoring from rural facilities to regional hospitals.
  • Cardiac imaging – dedicated inpatient echocardiography at both the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital and Chinook Regional Hospital.
  • Cardiac device services – an expanded device clinic to allow the capacity to insert cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators or CRT-D at the Chinook Regional Hospital.
  • Cardiac ambulatory diagnostics and procedures – includes tilt tables for testing and centralized booking and scheduling.
  • Prevention – collaboration between primary care, chronic disease management and public health, and utilizing virtual platforms and a multidisciplinary staffing model.

“Alberta Health Services is pleased to receive the funding to advance the planning for enhanced cardiac care in south zone. Once fully operational, the new catheterization lab at Chinook Regional Hospital will help an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 patients a year to remain within their home community for this type of care.”

Mauro Chies, president and chief executive officer, Alberta Health Services

The cardiac services plan builds on other important health care improvements for southern Alberta that were announced in Budget 2023. This includes a renal dialysis unit for the Chinook Regional Hospital and dedicated planning money for new projects in Cardston and Bassano.

Next steps for the cardiac services plan is a review by a committee comprised of Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, which will lead to the development of a complete capital needs assessment and business case.

"An important element of a high-quality health care system is delivering time-sensitive treatment within rapid time frames. The implementation of the cardiac services plan will save both lives and heart muscle by reducing times to treatment for heart attack patients. This plan will also assist with physician and nurse recruitment by offering jobs and opportunities to provide patient cardiac diagnostics and treatment that have not been previously offered in the zone.”

Dr. Aaron Low, Zone Medical Director, South Zone, Alberta Health Services

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.

Quick facts

  • Currently, more than 300 South Zone acute inpatients are transferred via ambulance to Calgary for interventional cardiac services (ICS) with another 1,000 outpatients also travelling to Calgary for ICS.
  • Once fully funded and operational, the cardiac services plan will allow for South Zone patients to receive specialized cardiac care and services within the zone, including:
    • electrophysiology lab work
    • cardiac specialized CT scans and MRIs
    • enhanced echocardiograms
    • an enhanced cardiac device clinic with remote monitoring
    • an enhanced heart function clinic
    • dedicated inpatient intensive care unit/cardiac care unit stepdown telemetry units with remote monitoring.