There won’t be complete satisfaction in Sylvan Lake and area until we know the details of the provincial government’s most recent announcement on health care for our residents.
Those details will provide an indication of whether the politicians and bureaucrats at Alberta Health Services are actually in tune with Sylvan Lake’s long running campaign for urgent care or have turned a blind eye to pursue a different agenda.
Yes, it’s good that efforts by our community have been recognized as reflected in Tuesday’s announcement that we’ll get one of the first Family Care Centres (FCCs). Presently there are three being piloted in the province. As part of an election promise to open 140 of these centres, Premier Alison Redford has now announced the first 24 locations.
But details are sketchy, something that everyone who’s commented on the announcement has pointed out.
Mayor Susan Samson was cautiously optimistic in her comments. “At this time the Urgent Care Committee needs to know more information to determine how the Family Care Clinic will meet the needs of our area including flexibility of the model and provision of adequate funding.”
“We anticipate that any new medical services will be customized to meet the needs of Sylvan Lake and area by providing non-life threatening medical services including lab and x-ray, seven days a week with extended hours,” she added.
Reading the government’s press release, and remembering discussions about urgent care needs in our community, suggests there are divergent ideas among the two sides.
The government states FCCs provide non-emergency primary health care services such as diagnostic and treatment of illness, screening, immunization, health promotion, chronic disease prevention and management, and links to other health and community agencies”. The release promises extended hours of service, same-day appointments and access to the most appropriate member of the care team.
Dr. Chris Eagle, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services further stated, “Strong primary care will enhance the health of the population, and improve our entire health-care system. By helping more Albertans with disease and injury prevention, chronic disease management, mental health concerns, and aging, we support wellness as well as treat illness, and that means better health for everyone.”
Our layman’s reading of these comments seems to suggest that there’s a stronger emphasis on preventive health care than reactive health care. In the past, however, we remember a stronger need voiced for ‘urgent care’ that will primarily react to certain situations and divert people from the emergency department at Red Deer’s regional hospital.
We can only hope that our concerns will be heard since the government has stressed FCCs are not cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all models.
Now’s not the time to take for granted that our prayers have been answered. We must remain vigilant in supporting our medical community and lobbying for what’s needed most in our area.
We wonder, as well, that while there are urgent care centres operating in other communities which have been visited by our committee, why the government doesn’t adopt that model and call the planned FCC and urgent care centre instead. Could it be they’re not the same?