Work continues on the finalization of plans for upgrades to the David Thompson Community Health Centre in SylvanLake following an announcement made last Monday by the Government of Alberta.
Minister of Health, Sarah Hoffman announced on January 16 in Sylvan Lake that just over $2 million in funding willbe made available to expand services at the Community Health Centre to provide additional medical care to includetreatment for injuries such as stitches and basic fractures up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This Tuesday morning, members of the Sylvan Lake and Area Urgent Care Committee met with representatives fromAlberta Health Services – Central Zone (AHS) to discuss how plans will move forward in the months to come.
Chair of the Urgent Care Committee, Susan Samson, explained the week following the announcement has been anexciting one for both the community and the committee. She added members of the committee have fielded anumber of calls and emails of a congratulatory nature while others have been posed inquisitions regarding thedetails of the services to be provided through the renovations of the community health centre.
Samson detailed the facility renovations are a ‘go no matter what’, however there is some flexibility moving forwardas per how the services are modeled. However, the details are now in the ‘hands of the experts’.
“Following our meeting on Tuesday, AHS plans to meet with local doctors and the Wolf Creek Primary Care Networkto start in on the planning which will include the actual nuts and bolts behind the services provided,” said Samson.“These services will be for non life threatening injuries with access to lab and x-ray. The facility will be open sevendays a week, having extended hours and being staffed with nurses and doctors.”
Samson added, “It’s critical we get the right usage out of this building and that it is not used as a walk in clinic. Wewant people to know when it’s appropriate to visit your family doctor, visit a walk-in clinic, visit the new facility orvisit the emergency room.” She explained the model for renovations to the community health centre will be unlikeanything else seen in the province with the potential to pioneer a rural health model option that could beimplemented in other municipalities in Alberta.
CELEBRATING SUCCESSES – Mayor Sean McIntyre receives a round of applause following the announcement that Sylvan Lake will receive funding for access to enhanced health care services. Jenna Swan/Sylvan Lake News
“At this time everyone is unsure of what the facility will be called as it won’t be an urgent care centre,” said Samson.She explained an urgent care centre health model includes ambulance bays and drop off. “We know it’s going to bea new service unlike anywhere else and a new name will likely come out of it. When that name is put forward we willhave a better idea of how to market it and spread awareness around it. ”
She added the details are now in the hands of health care experts and she is confident in what’s to come. DuringTuesday’s meeting a 12 to 18 month timeline was identified for the renovations to be completed at the DavidThompson Community Health Centre. During this time some services currently being offered at the centre willrequire relocation as the building is renovated, with hopes of the facility being reopened for the 2018 summerseason.
Both the Urgent Care Committee and the subsequent task force created in partnership with AHS will remain activeuntil the facility’s opening. Samson stated the task force will be an ongoing link with AHS, while the committee willcontinue to fundraise for the facility to ensure a smooth transition. To date, the Urgent Care Committee holds$200,000 in a trust which will be used to purchase medical equipment and supplies following renovations.
The Urgent Care Committee plans to continue partnerships with local organizations over the course of 2017 tofurther community celebrations and awareness. The annual Urgent Care Golf Tournament will continue in Augustwith both the Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie Campaign and the Spirit of Yuletide Festival also set to partner with thecommittee for another year.
“We want to show the province that we are giving it our all and that we are thankful their support of this project andhealth care in Sylvan Lake,” said Samson. “Residents knew this was important and it filters into the communitiesaround us as well. It also helps our community profile, in that health care is an important service people look forwhen they’re relocating here just like they do schools and churches.”
“Now we can comfortably say we can look after our residents and continue to promote tourism. We can know thataspect of health is being looked after.”
Samson wished to recognize the work done by members of the Sylvan Lake and Area Urgent Care Committee overthe past five years. The committee, which consists of 17 members, spans from members of Town Council, RCMP,doctors, pharmacists, medical professionals to local service club and community members.
“There was a group of 17 people who really gave it their all to make this happen. I strongly believe we couldn’t havemade it where we are today without their volunteer efforts,” said Samson. “It’s been rewarding and very exciting tobe part of something like this and every one of our 17 members wants to be there when that first patient walksthrough the door in 2018.”
On behalf of the community we thank the members of the Sylvan Lake & Area Urgent Care Committee:
Mayor Sean McIntyre Town of Sylvan Lake
Mayor Helen Posti Town of Eckville
Mayor Carol McMillian SV of Norglenwold
Councillor Cora Knutson Town of Bentley
Councillor Richard Lorenz Red Deer County
Dr. Brad Bahler
Dr. Joe Myburg
Dr. Brian Inglis
Corporal Kevin Halwa SL RCMP
Marena Siefiert Office manager Sylvan Lake Medical Clinic
Laurie Norris Public at large
Klaas VanVeller Public at Large
Teresa Rilling Public at Large
Shaina Bennett Public at Large
Val Langevin Pharmasist
Betty Osmond CAO Town of Sylvan Lake
Susan Samson Chair Urgent Care Committee
See Op-Ed From Minister of Health, Hon. Sarah Hoffman on advanced health care availability in Sylvan Lake here: http://www.sylvanlakenews.com/news/411893996.html
See Op-Ed from MLA Don Macintyre, Innisfail-Sylvan on urgent care in Sylvan Lake here: http://www.sylvanlakenews.com/opinion/411894426.html