Health Foundation members say 24-hour health care on horizon
Three Airdrie Health Foundation (AHF) members feel positive strides are being made toward procuring a 24-hour healthcare facility in the city.
Mayor Peter Brown chair of the AHF, expects there will be a business plan in place by early 2014.
“We have designed a building and we will have a business plan to present to the Province early next year,” said Brown.
Brown says that there are three or four locations being discussed for a new facility, which would be necessary as the current urgent care centre is not large enough to support the AHF’s vision.
“We’re not quite far enough along yet that we’ve decided on a location,” said Brown. “We need significant acreage because the building is designed to be expanded as we grow.”
As far as location, the group must take into consideration accessibility for Fire and EMS, when drafting the business plan.
Alderman and AHF board member Allan Hunter said he sees no reason that construction on a facility can’t get underway during this council’s term.
“Speaking personally, not on behalf of the AHF, but from a construction and development standpoint, there should be no major obstacles or roadblocks that would stop us from getting shovels in the ground and starting construction on this within two years,” he said.
Hunter, said he believes that significant steps have been taken in terms of working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and establishing a more consistent dialogue.
“I think during the election, our residents realized the job was not getting done as far as bringing 24-hour healthcare to Airdrie,” said Hunter. “It allowed us to step back and look at changing our tactics to start getting things done. In the past, we haven’t been able to establish a dialogue with AHS but we’ve put that behind us and we have a citizens group that can be proud of the plan in place that would allow the Alberta government and the AHS to get a win and say that this was done collaboratively.”
Airdrie’s rapid population growth is a major factor for the group’s push to bring 24-hour health care to a city that is significantly shorthanded, according to Brown.
“You look at Cochrane, they have a facility that has more than 20 beds,” said Brown. “Their population is 17,000, we have close to 50,000 people living here and we have a facility with just eight beds.”
The AHF met with AHS Health Operations Leader Brenda Huband on Oct. 24, a meeting that Airdrie MLA and AHF board member Rob Anderson said was positive and insightful. At the meeting, according to Anderson, AHS confirmed that they listed a new position for a nurse practitioner in Airdrie.
“If this meeting is any indication, AHS is now moving towards a community-based approach to the delivery of health care, something the Wildrose Caucus and I have been advocating for several years,” said Anderson in a press release. “This is a very welcome development and I sincerely hope that this will result in 24-hour health care for our city. Achieving this goal would be a tremendous achievement for Airdrie residents and for AHS.”
On the municipal level, Brown says that he intends to bring new council members Darrell Belyk and Candice Kolson up to speed on the progress being made by the AHF and that he is hoping for their support.
More information on the Airdrie Health Foundation can be found: www.arhf.ca