Sylvan Lake is finally getting an urgent care centre after five years of intense lobbying.
On Monday, the province announced funding for the centre and other major capital health projects around the province that were included in last week’s budget.
An urgent care centre was also announced for Beaverlodge.
Details for the Sylvan Lake facility were not available.
“(The province) has $2.7 billion set aside, starting now for the next five years, for ongoing and new major construction. Sylvan Lake is specifically named where some of that new construction money is going to go,” said urgent care committee chair Susan Samson on Monday.
“The government recognized that that model is going to work for us. Anything beyond that, we have to wait until further conversations occur with Alberta Health.”
Samson doesn’t expect it will take five years to get the centre with so much research already completed by the local committee.
“We’re absolutely not starting from square one. We’re well passed that.”
Sylvan Lake, along with Bentley, Eckville, five local summer villages, and Red Deer and Lacombe counties, have been pursuing an urgent care centre for the 18,000 residents in the area, as well as the one million annual visitors to Sylvan Lake. Urgent care is for non-life-threatening injuries and ailments.
Samson said the urgent care committee envisions a centre with doctors on staff, with lab and X-rays onsite, and observation beds. It would be open seven days a week with extended hours.
“If you’ve had a heart attack or you’ve been in a car accident, you’re going to the nearest hospital. You’re not coming into urgent care. Urgent care is for non-life-threatening injuries.”
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle said Sylvan’s urgent care centre will change how health care is delivered and greatly reduce the burden on Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department.
“Emergency should be for the most emergent cases. Urgent care facilities can deal with a lot of significant issues without having to go into a hospital and they’re more efficient to run,” said Towle, who has been an advocate for a centre in Sylvan.
“It’s going to be incredible. We’re ecstatic.”
She wanted to recognize Sylvan Lake resident Annie Boychuk, who raised public awareness of the need for urgent care after her husband collapsed in August 2012 in the town and later died from a heart attack.
“She really created a passion around this cause. I think she was really the catapult that really engaged everyone. I know that she is excited today, but I’m sure it’s with mixed emotions.”
Towle didn’t have any further details from the province on the project, which she said will worked out by Alberta Health Services and the urgent care committee.
“That’s going to take some time, but I have full confidence in Alberta Health Services and the urgent care committee being able to meet or exceed the expectations of the community.”
Samson said doctors in Sylvan Lake have been trying to bring enhanced care to the area for over 25 years, long before the local 16-member committee was organized, with representation from the RCMP, fire, doctors, and community organizations.
The committee has already raised over $60,000 for equipment to enhance its urgent care centre.