Health co-operative could ease delivery woes
Thursday, Nov 17, 2016 11:28 am
When members of the Airdrie and Area Health Co-operative (AHC) presented information to Airdrie City council Oct. 3 about their plans to form a health co-operative and build a community health park, AHC member Myles Hamilton said Airdrie was not on the Province’s capital investment plans for the possible building of a hospital until 2035.
That’s not good news for Kelsey Brookway, who is one of many Airdrie mothers she said have been forced to give birth en route to hospital in Calgary. Brookway delivered her son nine years ago in the front seat of her family’s pickup truck.
“Because it was my first child and we’d been to pre-natal classes, they’d said to stay home as long as possible…so we stuck around the house for about 15 to 20 minutes, just getting our stuff together, all the while feeling pushing contractions,” Brookway said.
“My husband managed to get me into the truck and he started to drive. He called 911…and then my water broke and (my son) flew out and I grabbed him and put him on my chest. We were just coming up to Country Hills Boulevard…and that’s where the ambulance met us.”
Brookway and her son were fine and able to go home from hospital a few days later but the experience left her wondering what could have happened.
Relief could be on the way, according to AHC member Dr. Julian Kyne.
“The idea is that within six months we’ll actually have an elected board,” Kyne said. “(Getting) the co-op incorporated should be accomplished by next week – we’ve signed the papers and given them to the lawyers.
“We’ve set out a pretty ambitious schedule, timetable for getting things done. This upcoming year is going to be a very busy year but by the end of it we should, hopefully, have shovels in the ground and members recruited. The lofty goal is to get 60,000 (members). There’s absolutely no fee for being a member.”
Brookway said she thought the health co-op could be a way to help Airdrie’s expecting moms get better care without having to leave the city.
“I think this is a great idea. No one wants to go to Calgary to have their children. They’d rather have them here,” Brookway said. “My only concern is would we be able to fill the demand. I think there would be a huge demand and it might be too much demand.
“You could even have doulas delivering (at the health park) – that could alleviate some of the demand. There are a lot of independent midwives and doulas now who would probably buy in just to have a room there to deliver in.”
According to Kyne, the community will be members and owners of the co-op and can determine what the priorities are, directing the board to go out and make those priorities happen.
“That’s the beauty of this. It allows people to give voice to the things they need,” Kyne said. “The co-operative allows the community to move forward once it decides this is a priority, this is what we want to have. Then the community can say, ‘Let’s move on it, let’s raise funds around it, let’s get the expertise and let’s do it.’ We finally have the vehicle where we can make things happen.”
According to Kyne, funding for the co-op would partially come from the issuing of investment shares.
“A co-op is not a charitable organization. It’s an organization that can raise capital and issues bonds and shares and the like,” he said.
“There’s an awful lot of interest from various industries and agencies in terms of supporting the ideals put forward by the co-op, that whole idea of social change as well as health, health promotion and healthcare. There are also businesses that would want to be co-located with physicians and healthcare groups.”
Funding the Province currently provides to the residents of Airdrie for healthcare would continue as well, according to Kyne.
“We expect (Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services) to be members of the co-op and, as such, to be around the decision-making table as well,” he said. “This is the money that’s been set aside for Airdrie anyway for healthcare and health promotion.
“This is how we’re going to save the healthcare system upwards of 20 per cent of costs. Some of those savings get channeled back to the co-op and some go back to the government. It ends up being very much a win-win.”