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Red Deer County offers financial support for Delburne medical clinic

County, village and local group covering medical clinic financial deficit until new doctors arrive

Red Deer County is boosting its financial support of a Delburne medical clinic to keep the doors open until a pair of new doctors arrive.

Council unanimously agreed to provide $4,000 a month to Delburne Medical Clinic through December. The $20,000 will help offset a monthly $12,000 operating deficit for the clinic where a single doctor is attending to the community’s health needs.

County Mayor Jim Wood said it is important for residents of smaller communities to have access to local doctors. Walk-in clinics do not replace family doctors and sending patients to the emergency departments in hospitals only adds to their waiting times.

Ensuring Delburne residents have access to a doctor not only helps improve community health it boosts economic development by making the village more attractive to businesses and investors and allows it to continue growing.

The village’s only doctor has about 2,500 clients, many of them living in the surrounding county. It is difficult for one doctor to meet local health needs or see enough patients to keep the clinic financially viable.

“The concern is if this clinic doesn’t get assistance it could actually close,” said Wood.

Wood said he’d be willing to consider extending the financial aid past December if necessary.

“If we need to reevaluate, I think this is something really important to put 0ur county dollars toward.”

Since June, Village of Delburne has been covering the entire $12,000 operating deficit, on top of a $30,000 operating grant it provides. Red Deer County also provides $10,000 a year.

Beginning this month, the Delburne Economic Expansion Program, which is supported by local residents and businesses, agreed to cover $4,000 or one-third. The county and village will each now pick up one-third.

Coun. Philip Massier, whose division includes Delburne, agreed the support goes beyond health care.

“This is supporting the economic viability of Delburne and some of our smaller communities,” said Massier.

Delburne has made efforts to create a family-friendly community by building spray parks and other amenities. “They want people to stay in the community and work in the community.”

Two doctors are coming to the community, but they must first go through an assessment process at other health facilities.

“I guess I’m pleading with you to support this facility one more time,” Massier told council.

Coun. Christine Moore said she liked that the community and its businesses were helping support the clinic.

“I really like the collaboration part. It really does shine a light on the inequity of rural living. I hope there’s a way to entice (the new doctors) to stay.”

Several councillors mentioned that there have been discussions with Alberta Health about using nurse practitioners to fill some of the gaps in rural health care.

“I do believe nurse practitioners can be a huge benefit by taking some pressure off our health system,” said Coun. Connie Huelsman.

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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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