Sylvan Lake’s new health care centre has already proven its worth.
In the Advanced Ambulatory Health Service’s first two weeks, 380 patients came through the doors to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, ailments and other medical complaints.
By the end of the year, it is expected 50 to 60 patients a day will be treated, said Susan Samson, chair of the Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Committee, which spent seven years lobbying for the new service. The first patient was officially seen on June 4.
Besides the lobbying success, the urgent care committee has also been a major achiever on the fundraising front. So far, $300,000 has been raised, with $240,000 already spent on medical equipment.
Samson appeared before Lacombe County Thursday to request funding help for additional equipment. No specific amount was requested, but doctors have pinpointed a need for a high-performance ultrasound system worth $45,000.
Another item on the equipment wish list is a $21,000 small and lightweight patient monitor.
As is its practice, county council deferred any decision until it has received a report from administration, which will come to a future council meeting.
Coun. Keith Stephenson asked whether the health care centre was easing the pressure at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department.
Samson said it is already happening. Patients have come from Red Deer to Sylvan Lake to be treated rather than wait.
“What is the point of having crying children in there with earaches?” said Samson. “They don’t need to be there.”
The Advanced Ambulatory Health Service provides daily treatment from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. with access to lab and X-ray services. It is meant for the treatment of non-life-threatening medical issues.
One of the challenges, the service is facing is making it clear what sorts of medical problems should be taken to the centre. There have been cases of patients coming in who should have called 911 or gone to the emergency department at a hospital.
Chest pains — which can signal heart attacks or strokes among other serious conditions — are typical of the kind of complaint that should not be taken to Sylvan Lake’s facility.
“If you’re not sure, call 911,” she said.