Sundre and other communities in Mountain View County are looking at creating a committee to address health care concerns in the area.
Sundre Mayor Roy Cummings said on Wednesday that the town doesn’t have a local representative on the Alberta Health Services superboard and the town and residents feel they have lost their ability to express their concerns.
“What we’re looking for is to be able to have that voice to constantly express our concerns and work with the superboard,” Cummings said.
He said the committee could be formed out of the Municipal Area Partnership, which represents communities within Mountain View County, as well as the county.
Cummings said the committee could meet once a month or a few times a year. He said they hope to work out the details of the committee over the next month or so.
The idea comes after the Alberta Health Services Superboard took over the responsibility of provincial health care from regional health authorities.
A couple of months ago, a memo leaked suggesting the closure or downgrading of rural hospitals in Central Alberta and most recently, eight helipads — including Sundre’s — were shut down. The helipads have now been re-opened until a review is completed sometime in the fall.
James Eklund, president of the Sundre and District Chamber of Commerce, said the community’s biggest fear isn’t just losing the Sundre Hospital, but also any downgrading that might take place. He said Sundre has agriculture, the oil and gas industry and families who need access to the hospital facilities.
Eklund said he would like to see every hospital have a representative to express concerns to the superboard because a local hospital representative would know the surrounding areas and the people who live there. But he said the next step for the town and chamber is to create a type of committee made up of citizens to push the government for local health care concerns.
“Since the superboard took over and there is no representation, they don’t know what people want,” Eklund said. “So if they don’t know what is going on and what the people want, then how can they properly govern?”
Rocky Mountain House MLA Ty Lund said MLAs from rural Alberta feel that people in rural areas need to have input into the health care in their communities and so caucus has asked for there to be 12 health-care advisory committees established throughout the province. Lund said advertisements about the committees will be going out in newspapers in the next two weeks and people will have the chance to be involved.
He said the chairman from the advisory committees would meet with the Alberta Health Services superboard once a month and bring the wishes of the communities to the table. The committees would follow the old health region boundaries, with a couple of exceptions, with Calgary and Edmonton each having one.