New dedicated women’s hospital improves access to services for women in northern Alberta

Capital Health is improving access to programs and services for women in northern Alberta and Canada’s north with the development of the new Lois Hole Hospital for Women, a hospital designed especially for women. This new hospital will be the first in northern Alberta designed specifically to better meet the health needs of women and their families.

The new facility is Capital Health’s second venture into using the “hospital within a hospital” concept as this new hospital will be built on the campus of the Royal Alexandra Hospital, one of the region’s largest tertiary care sites. The Stollery Children’s Hospital within the host University of Alberta Hospital was the region’s first when it opened in 2000.

“The Lois Hole Hospital provides us the opportunity to build on our existing expertise in obstetrics and gynecology and to improve access to services for women with the addition of more than 40 beds in our Women’s Health program,” says Dr. Wylam Faught, Chief of Women’s Health at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. “It’ll also allow us to introduce new and innovative programs that enhance our family-centered approach to women’s health and allow us to better provide physicians and staff with access to the latest and developing technology, and support increased opportunities for research.”

As the teaching centre for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, physicians and staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital already play a lead role in research and the training of future health-care professionals specializing in women’s health. Dr. Faught, who is also the Department’s Chair, says the opening of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women will be significant in increasing the Capital Health region’s role in leading edge research in women’s health and will allow for increased participation in clinical trials and outcomes research.

Innovation and excellence are driving forces as plans for this new women’s hospital come together, says Selikke Janes-Kelley, Patient Care Director for Women’s Health at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. “Not only will this revitalize our women’s health programs and further develop our leading programs such as the Urogynecology Clinic or our High-Risk Obstetrical service, but it also gives us a tremendous opportunity to find new and innovative programs that will improve the care we provide to women and their families.”

For example, the establishment of a Familial Ovarian Cancer Clinic within the new hospital will be the region’s first centralized service for women whose family genetic history increases their risk for ovarian cancer. This clinic will substantially improve care for these women by providing organized screening, history collection, counseling and, in some cases, preventative surgery.

A Maternal Heart Health Clinic will improve care for mothers with new or pre-existing cardiac conditions and monitor them through their pregnancy. Another clinic, the Mature Women’s Health Clinic, will focus on improving clinical access and education for mature women and will work with existing regional services to better care for women in this demographic.

“Our population in the Capital Health region is aging at a rate faster than many other parts of the country so it is vitally important that women have the services and support they need to maintain active, healthy lifestyles well into their later years through expertise in research, clinical care and education,” says Dr. Faught.

An In-vitro Fertilization Clinic is already under development, and while not physically located in the Lois Hole Hospital, it will be another critical development in improving services provided to women in northern Alberta and beyond.

These are but a few examples of how the Lois Hole Hospital for Women will improve the care provided to women in northern Alberta and Canada’s northwest when it opens in 2008. In the meantime, the Royal Alexandra Hospital will continue to provide high quality care to women in the Edmonton area and specialized care and services – including high-risk obstetrical care and specialized gynecological care – to women in northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the eastern side of Nunavut.