Mayor, MLA talk health care with committee
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown and MLA Rob Anderson met with the City’s health-care committee Sept. 13 to discuss ongoing talks with the Province concerning a 24-hour health care facility.
The meeting, according to Brown, reviewed the much-anticipated “super clinic”.
Plans have not been released to the public yet, but Brown said he anticipates residents will see the plans in the first quarter of the new year. The new clinic will feature an assessment, emergency and non-emergency areas.
“The patient will be assessed and if it’s determined that they require emergency treatment, they will be directed to the emergency area,” Brown said. “If it is an non-emergency concern, they will be directed to a general practitioner in the same building.”
The aim, according to Brown, will decrease costs to Alberta Health Services (AHS) as 70 per cent of visits to an medical facility are non-emergencies such as the flu or cold symptoms.
The location of the clinic has not been determined yet, but Brown admits developers he has spoken to are interested in being involved in the project.
It’s been a two-year process to get to this point, currently registering the clinic’s official name is what is holding up the process. The name has not been released to the public.
“It’s never as fast as you want it to go,” Anderson said.
“It’s a formality, I expect that in the next few weeks, we’ll hear something. Once the name has been formalized we can get a registered charity and access to funding programs, but right now it’s a formality at this point.”
The hold up was crossed lines of communication between the Province and the City, according to Brown.
“We’ve been waiting for approval for the name for eight months,” he said. “We got our wires crossed and we were dealing with the wrong department.”
With October’s municipal election fast approaching, the issue of the need for a 24-hour health-care facility is once again in the lime light.
The Health Committee has approached the Province to ask for 24-hour health coverage within Airdrie city limits, but according Brown, the Province believes the numbers aren’t showing the demand.
“The boundaries are already set, east to west, from what I can tell it’s number driven,” he said. “They go the hospital and take the numbers using the postal codes (submitted by patients) and determine that after 10 p.m. (the numbers show that ) it’s not worth it.”
Brown said if there were an around-the-clock health-care facility within Airdrie, those numbers would be different, as the commute to one of Calgary’s four major hospitals deters Airdrie residents from seeking medical attention.
“Alberta Health Services is committed to ongoing and open and transparent dialogue with the City of Airdrie,” said Brenda Huband, vice president and chief operating officer for Alberta Health Services.
“(Currently) The urgent care centre in the Airdrie Health Centre is meeting the demands of the community. Alberta Health Services will continue to monitor health needs for the community of Airdrie.”
While the decision from the Province remains unchanged for the foreseeable future, it’s the perfect time to get residents, current council and those running for a seat to make health care the City’s No. 1 priority, according to Anderson.
“I think it can be a No. 1 priority, same as we did with schools,” he said. “When we make it the first priority it can be done.”
In 2010 and 2011, residents and local politicians petitioned the Province for new schools in Airdrie. In May 2011, then Premier Ed Stelmach announced three new schools for the community, which are now under construction.