The committee pursuing better health care for the Sylvan Lake area is moving forward but it will still be a few months before they know the specifics of what, when and where.
The community was identified as one of nine in Alberta to move to the next stage of the Family Care Centre proposal process.
Committee chair Susan Samson is quick to point out that while they’re pursuing the Family Care Centre they have “consistently stated that any service model has to provide four key components if it is to work for our area”. Those are the same components initially identified when ‘urgent care’ was the terminology used.
They include: minor emergency care seven days a week with extended hours of operation; after hours lab and diagnostic imaging services; ability to serve people in communities and rural areas around Sylvan Lake; and spaces with beds that would allow doctors to perform minor medical procedures and observe patients for short periods.
“These are the components that will allow our doctors to treat significantly more patients without sending them into Red Deer Hospital Emergency Department and the detail of the business plan will outline how they will be provided and at what cost,” said Samson.
She added they continue to be “focused on a stand-alone location”.
The Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Committee has engaged JLT Management Consulting to assist with development of the organization structure and business plan required to move to the next stage.
Money for that is being provided by a partnership between Lacombe and Red Deer counties, the Town of Sylvan Lake and Summer Village of Norglenwold.
One of the first steps is to form a non-profit organization that can then access government money through grant funding.
“We are pleased to be one of the nine communities eligible for this funding,” said Mayor Sean McIntyre, who is a member of the committee. “However, we have known from the beginning that the success of our proposal depends on the willingness of Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services to be flexible, collaborative and co-operative within the approved model.
“There have been many intense discussions through the process but after our recent meeting with the Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Dr. Alan Casson, and a personal phone conversation with Minister of Health Fred Horne, I am confident that they will find ways to make it work for Sylvan Lake,” McIntyre said.
He reiterated the committee has always had the same goals in mind whether it’s labelled a urgent care or family care.
“Now the government has said this is the roadmap to establishing these goals. We have the option to seize the opportunity and pursue our goal now or wait. We can’t afford to wait, we need to go down this road.”
“It’s this or nothing,” added Samson.