“For so long we have been just making do, but now we aren’t just making do we are here and we can help,” said Mayor Sean McIntyre of the soon to open Advanced Ambulatory Care Services in Sylvan Lake.
The $2.1 million facility had dignitaries and donors on hand for a special tour of the nearly complete health care service on May 11.
Along with the Mayors of Sylvan Lake, Eckville and Red Deer County, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman stopped in to see the progress and remark on how exciting it is to see how far it has come.
“We know how busy Sylvan Lake is and they made a very clear case to me,” said Hoffman.
“We also think it’s to take some of the pressure off of the Red Deer hospital as well. It’s not going to a quick fix for Red Deer, we have other work to do there as well, but this is a step in the right direction.”
Eckville Mayor Helen Posti thanked the Health Minister for all the work she and the ministry had done to help get the new facility operational.
She said it was particularly impressive as Hoffman is the only person who has held the position for three consecutive years.
“I don’t think we would have been able to do this and have this outcome without your ongoing support,” Posti told Hoffman.
Susan Samson, chair of the Urgent Care Committee, began the charge for extended health care for Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas in 2011, while she was still mayor.
She said the people in Central Alberta quickly got on board with the idea, as it was clear a better system was needed for the area.
“The support we have had from the people in this region has just been unbelievable,” said Samson. “It really shows this is a needed service for our community and the surrounding areas.”
Fundraising efforts have been underway for the last few years, which have brought in around $300,000 for urgent care and AACS.
Before the government announcement last January, the urgent car committee had raised just under $200,000 for the cause.
“I really think that helped show how important it was to us, and to the people in this region,” said Samson. “It also help bring weight to our proposal to the provincial government.”
The Urgent Care Committee had donors and partners in Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas. Tanya and John-Paul Doucette, owners of the Sylvan Lake Tim Horton’s, were quick to jump on board and help as they could.
For the past three years the owners have donated the proceeds from the annual smile-cookie campaign to the Urgent Care Committee.
“We have sold thousands of smile cookie, because this cause is important to the people in this town,” said Tanya Doucette.
Though the AACS is just about ready to open, Samson says they will continue to raise money through events such as the annual golf tournament and the smile cookie campaign. John-Paul Doucette says the proceeds from the smile cookies will now be donated to AACS rather than Urgent Care.
The Urgent Care Committee hopes to raise an additional $50,000 this year for AACS.
“We are ready to go now, but we want to be prepared for a just in case situation,” said Samson.
“As we go on, the doctors may discover some other piece of equipment they would like to have.”
Mayor McIntyre said he is grateful for the support and effort the people of Sylvan Lake and the surrounding communities.
“The people and the donors have all been so great during the entire effort,” said McIntyre.
The Advanced Ambulatory Care Services will be open to the public on June 4, located in the Sylvan Lake Community Health Centre. A grand opening date is still being planned.
Fourteen Sylvan Lake doctors have been trained to work in AACS, according to Dr. Elsabe Nel.
“We will be able to treat non-life threatening emergencies like fractures,” Nel said. “If someone does make a mistake and comes in with something more serious we will be able to stabilize and get them to the hospital in Red Deer.”
“It is important for people to remember though, if it is life threatening to go to the hospital or call for an ambulance.”
AACS will be open seven day a week in Sylvan Lake and will have extended hours.