Plans for family care clinics (FCCs) are moving ahead for Sylvan Lake and eight other communities across the province with $45 million announced in new funding from the Alberta government.
“The dollars allocated for these projects are encouraging and it helps us have confidence that the province is moving forward with this initiative, even following the leadership change,” said Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre. The next step is identifying a facility for the FCC, he added.
The nine FCCs are slated for development this year and are among the 24 locations identified last June for FCCs.
FCCs are based in a single location and specially tailored to each community’s needs. For example, the one in Sylvan will be focused on same-day and extended-hour access to physicians.
The clinics will serve to ease some of the pressure on emergency rooms and provide non-emergency primary health-care services, such as diagnosis and treatment of illness, screening, immunization and links to other health and community agencies.
Each is expected to provide extended hours of service, same-day appointments and access to the appropriate member of the care team.
Former premier Alison Redford pledged to create 140 FCCs during her 2012 election campaign and said in her resignation speech that “more than 80” new FCCs would be announced in the coming months.
Alberta Health says that work is continuing with the 15 other communities identified for an FCC.
Three Hills was originally targeted for a FCC but will not be seeing any such facility created this year.
Mayor Tim Shearlaw said the town had little interest in a FCC in the first place and everyone is “very satisfied” with the local Primary Care Network.
“We didn’t really want to get into a situation where there were so many unanswered questions,” Shearlaw said.
Sylvan Lake is continuing to work with the province to ensure that once the FCC is in place, it meets the needs of citizens and is running efficiently, McIntyre said.
No date for construction has been provided.
Tackling urgent care in Sylvan Lake has been an issue for numerous years, McIntyre said.
“Sylvan has seen exponential growth over the last 15 to 20 years and with that growth being so rapid, we have not increased health services to our residents, meaning doctors’ offices that are open during business hours are our primary level of care. We do have doctors on call after hours but we are looking for true after-hours care for our residents.”
The other eight FCCs will be in Consort, Peace River, Siksika, two in Calgary, two in Edmonton and one for the Metis Nation Association of Alberta.
Three FCCs that started as pilot projects are currently running in Calgary, Edmonton and Slave Lake.
Health Minister Fred Horne also announced on Thursday $32 million will be provided to improve the services of Alberta’s 42 Primary Care Networks, specifically in same day/next day appointments and extended operating hours.