Town hall meeting to press for urgent care centre

The committee formed to lobby for an urgent care centre for Sylvan Lake wants to ensure it has the community behind it.

The committee formed to lobby for an urgent care centre for Sylvan Lake wants to ensure it has the community behind it.

A town hall meeting has been arranged for Jan. 18 to show the public what has been proposed to bring round-the-clock non-life-threatening medical care to the town and surrounding communities.

“We really have to make sure that we have the mandate and that we accurately represent the position of the community,” said Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson.

The meeting runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre at 4725 43 St.

Information will be provided on what services an urgent care centre would provide, why it is needed and how can area communities go about convincing the provincial government to bankroll the project.

“We are wanting to get ourselves positioned properly because of the potential for an early spring election,” she said.

“When we have candidates coming around to our communities and talking to us about why they want to get elected we want to be very clear that we’re saying the important thing for Sylvan Lake and area is an urgent care facility.”

It will only strengthen the case for the health facility if there is a good turnout and solid local support at the town hall meeting, she added.

Although only formed a few months ago, the committee, which includes area physicians and community representatives from Sylvan Lake, Eckville, Bentley, five summer villages and Red Deer and Lacombe counties, has already been busy building its case and researching existing facilities. Committee members have visited urgent care facilities in Okotoks and Cochrane. They also plan to visit other centres in the Edmonton and Calgary areas early next year.

Samson came away from the urgent care centres convinced they would prove a good fit for Sylvan Lake.

It is a growing community of 11,000 with a group of doctors who are willing to staff a care centre. The resort community also draws a million visitors a year and those visitors would benefit from having non-emergency care within easy reach, as would residents in a number of nearby communities.

“We are in no way asking for a hospital. That is not the intent. What we need is the ability to have diagnostic equipment, lab and x-ray (available locally),” she said.

Not only will residents see travel time reduced to get basic medical care, some of the pressure will be taken off hospitals in Red Deer and elsewhere and help cut wait times, a well-known priority of Alberta Health Services.

“This model would nicely fit into what they are trying to achieve and what we as a region are trying to achieve.”

Besides the upcoming town hall meeting, urgent care committee members have been busy organizing meetings with health officials. A meeting is set for Jan. 4 with Alberta Health Services representatives for Central Alberta to update them on the committee’s activities.

On Feb. 2 the Alberta Health Services Advisory Committee will host a public meeting at Sylvan Lake’s community centre to get feedback on the health needs for the area. It is expected urgent care will be high on the agenda.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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