A Sylvan Lake widow says her late husband may have survived his heart attack 10 days ago if their community had an urgent care centre — or even better, a hospital.
At about 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, Brent Boychuk, 49, was at home when he felt heat in his chest and asked their daughter to take him to a local doctors’ clinic. They arrived to find it closed.
Then he asked her to drive him to his doctor’s office, which also turned out to be closed.
“They both got out of the truck, found the doors were locked, and that’s where Brent collapsed and that’s where my daughter called 911 and proceeded to do CPR on her dad until paramedics got there,” said his wife Annie Boychuk on Tuesday.
When she arrived on the scene, the paramedics were already there. Her husband did not regain consciousness.
“I did everything I could. I spoke to him. I begged him to come back.”
Boychuk said her husband would have had a great chance of survival if there was an urgent care centre.
“If it had been available, he would have walked into that clinic and told them he had chest pains, and they would have done whatever they could.
“I know he was alive for about 10 minutes looking for help.”
Her husband was on heart medication, but he didn’t think his condition was critical or that it required an ambulance, she said.
Better than an urgent care centre would be a hospital in Sylvan Lake, she said.
“We’re 10,000 people plus. I don’t want to see an emergency facility. I just want to see a hospital here. We need one. That’s what I’m going to try and fight for.”
She has opened a bank account and so far people have donated $3,100 to bring better health care services to Sylvan Lake.
Boychuk also wants people to write government officials.
“I want people to do what I did. I want them to write the health minister. I want them to write the mayor. I want them to write the MLA. And I want something to happen.”
Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson, who has known the Boychuk family for a long time, said the letter she received from Annie Boychuk brought her to tears.
“It’s a horrific tragedy to one of our very own,” Samson said.
“Mrs. Boychuk’s example might have had a different ending if we had an urgent care facility and Mr. Boychuk could have been brought in and stabilized and transported to Red Deer Regional (Hospital Centre).”
Samson said Sylvan Lake and surrounding communities and counties are not asking for a hospital.
“We’re asking for urgent care because that is the right model for the community and the area for today and into the future.
“Red Deer Regional has been built and expanded and financed to be the regional hub of medical technology for Central Alberta and nothing should detract from that.”
Other small communities in Central Alberta have hospitals, but they were built in different economic times, she said.
“The sustainability of those hospitals, the affordability of them, the use of those of hospitals, are all coming into question now.”
There are seven urgent care centres in Alberta and Sylvan Lake wants a centre that’s open seven days a week with extended hours with laboratory and X-ray services, and non-life-threatening medical care that is lacking in the community.
Samson said it would alleviate pressure on the emergency department in Red Deer and get people timely medical treatment closer to home.
“We don’t want to see seniors or young mothers with sick children travelling highways in the dark or in the winter for something that would cause them to sit in emergency for extended hours for something that could be treated here.”
Sylvan Lake’s many tourists would also benefit, she said.
The hope is to renovate and rent a facility to house the urgent care centre as a short-term solution until a facility can be built.
Sylvan Lake is already looking at fundraising for a bariatric stretcher, costing over $10,000.
“The provincial government is very well aware of the need for an urgent care in Sylvan Lake so we’ve been working closely with Alberta Health Services out of the Red Deer region to get into their zone integrated plan. It should be in the zone integrated plan by September.”
Samson said she has been in contact with AHS to see if the project is on track but has not heard back yet.
“We’re hoping when the province finishes its health conversations tour this summer, they will remember what they heard in Sylvan lake and report back to the minister and maybe accelerate the need for an urgent care for Sylvan Lake and area.”