Central Albertans urged to lobby for urgent-care centre

Albertans have until Friday to let the province know what they want to see in the upcoming provincial budget and Sylvan Lake-area residents are being encouraged to spell it out — urgent-care centre.

Albertans have until Friday to let the province know what they want to see in the upcoming provincial budget and Sylvan Lake-area residents are being encouraged to spell it out — urgent-care centre.

People can list their budget priorities in a short online budget survey at — www.alberta.ca/budget-consultations.cfm — until 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre urged Central Albertans to speak up before it’s too late.

“The No. 1 priority for Sylvan Lake is urgent care. We see this is an opportunity to reiterate that message to the government. We’re hoping the government heeds that message and includes it in their upcoming budget,” McIntyre said on Wednesday.

Sylvan Lake and area have been diligently pursuing an urgent-care centre since 2011.

The area serves a population of over 22,000 and includes Sylvan Lake, Eckville, Bentley, Benalto, Lacombe County, Red Deer County and summer villages Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay, Jarvis Bay, Norglenwold, and Sunbreaker Cove.

As many as 750,000 people visit the area annually.

An urgent-care centre would treat non-life threatening injuries seven days a week, with access to a lab and X-ray.

“It’s an ongoing issue we face in our community where we need care for our residents that is above the level that a doctor’s office can provide, particularly after regular business hours when most of our non-emergent cases are being treated with emergent cases in the Red Deer emergency room.”

Seeking treatment at the emergency room in Red Deer not only contributes to higher health-care costs, but it also creates longer wait times for care, he said.

Donations collected through community fundraising efforts have raised $115,000 for medical equipment.

“We don’t need a giant capital investment. We’ve got leasing options. We’ve got repurposing of existing facilities as an option. Essentially what we need is the funding for operations of that facility and the approval and support of both Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services,” McIntyre said.

The centre got the green light last spring from the Progressive Conservative government before they lost the provincial election.

He said since then the NDP government has been mum on the proposed project.

The provincial budget will be announced on April 14.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com