The campaign to set up an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake has taken on a new dimension with the ability to accept donations through David Thompson Health Trust.
Information will soon be going to residents in the Sylvan Lake-Bentley-Eckville region providing them with ways to donate toward equipment for a centre.
The committee promoting urgent care is also awaiting approval this month from Alberta Health Services (AHS) Central Region that an urgent care centre is included in the zone integrated plan.
That is vital, said Teresa Rilling, a member of the urgent care task force’s executive. “AHS has been notified regarding our desire to hear from them sooner than later. The decision is being made in September.”
Members of the task force met with AHS representatives in May and have since provided them with information from doctors serving the area that includes Sylvan Lake, the summer villages around the lake, Eckville and Bentley.
She indicated inclusion in the plan will address long-term solutions. In the meantime they’ve also proposed short-term opportunities, something that was discussed with Health Minister Fred Horne when the executive committee met him earlier this year.
Urgent care is medical assistance of non-life threatening injuries seven days a week with extended hours and walk-in, Mayor Susan Samson told Rotary Club members recently. Those operating in the province now have day beds, doctors, nurses, are open extended hours seven days a week and have lab and X-ray facilities.
The committee’s suggestion for a short-term solution is that an urgent care centre be set up in the existing health centre which has lab and X-ray machines and that some of the people there be moved to rented locations elsewhere in town.
Rilling said the committee has supplied AHS with a list of landlords, vacancies and rates they were able to find and have had no response back.
“We’ve contacted AHS numerous times and are waiting for their response.”
As they wait, committee members have been busy on other fronts.
They signed an agreement with David Thompson Health Trust that opens up the opportunity for people to donate to urgent care in Sylvan Lake.
“We’re a fully subsidized, registered charity through AHS,” said executive director Corrie Fortner.
The organization “provides services to communities in support of their efforts to raise funds for health care,” according to their website. “Money raised is directed by the donors and the communities to support programs and services for quality sustainable health care.”
Fortner said because they’re centrally funded there are no costs to the rural communities for their services.
“Donations people make are used as they designated through the trust to the program you want to support. 100 per cent of every donation comes back to the community. We will work with the committee to help the committee reach it goals.”
Currently David Thompson Health Trust is working with 21 communities doing similar projects.
To learn more visit the website at davidthompsonhealthtrust.com. A button on the bottom left of the home page allows people to donate online. When doing that they need to select Sylvan Lake as the community they want to support and then type in ‘urgent care’ as the unit.
Rilling said the initial project of the committee is to purchase procedural stretchers.
“It’s something we want to purchase that will eventually be used in an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake.” But, she added, the sooner they could make the first purchase the better since it could be used as a visual prop when the committee is promoting urgent care.
“There’s no question in the community of whether or not there’s a need. Now it’s a question of when are we going to take care of this urgent need?” said Rilling.
She encouraged people to continue writing letters, keeping the topic at the forefront. “They can’t ignore us anymore.”
The committee has also been forwarding letters to the health minister.
The group has a Facebook page set up at Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Committee. It includes information about their campaign and the addresses for the premier and health minister.
The 18 member urgent care committee includes representation from Eckville, Bentley, the five summer villages, two doctors, RCMP, fire department, a nurse, chamber of commerce representative and active community members.
– By Steve Dills, Sylvan Lake News