The Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville Council approved $25,000 per year for two years to help fund a mental health clinic in Bonnyville. The clinic is a long-overdue and much-needed facility says Reeve for the MD, Ed Rondeau.
“I think this is one of the greatest things that has happened to this community,” Reeve Rondeau explains the need for the clinic was brought to the Reeve’s attention by a group of eight local doctors. “There’s way too many patients that are suffering from mental health issues, and we need to help them. It’s too easy to think, ‘well they have to help themselves.’ Well, they can’t. For someone who doesn’t suffer from mental health [issues], it can be difficult to understand that [patients can’t just help themselves], but it’s not in their capabilities.” Reeve Rondeau exudes a lot of passion when speaking of the potential clinic.
“When the doctors told me there was one [teen] a day going into emergency, here at the Bonnyville hospital, it just floored me. That’s a huge amount of people. I don’t even care if half of them come from outside our region, that’s a lot of people!” Reeve Rondeau says because there is no facility or programs in place, the emergency rooms treats the patients, as best they can, but then must release them. There’s no follow-up or continuous treatment; which is what the MD and their potential partners are hoping to change.
The doctors propose that the MD, The Town of Bonnyville, and the two school boards (Northern Lights School Division & Lakeland Catholic School District) partner to fund the project; each partner would contribute $25,000 per year for two years, to get the clinic off the ground. Reeve Rondeau says the initial set-up is similar to how the Lakeland Centre for FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) was funded. Municipal partners were financially responsible for the initial start-up, until the Minister of Health approved the facility, and now it is fully funded by the Government. Reeve Rondeau expects a similar arrangement to work in opening the Teen Mental Health Clinic to Bonnyville.
“This program has to have leadership and the leadership is here through the LPCN. There’s eight doctors on board who are willing to give their time and take the time necessary to do clinics. If the doctors don’t want to participate in this, you’re toast, it doesn’t work!” Along with the eight doctors who would ideally rotate clinic duties, the idea is to have a full-time staff member act as the navigator and handle appointments, administration, and coordinating other clinic operations. The funding provided by the MD and potentially by other partners would fund the navigator’s position, as well as, clinic supplies. The goal is to run the clinic once-a-week, with the potential to expand into adult mental health services and be open for more days.
At the Town of Bonnyville’s Council meeting Mayor Gene Sobolewski spoke briefly to Council regarding the clinic, while doing so he displayed a lot of desire to open the clinic in town. Mayor Sobolewski says a healthcare practitioner would be addressing Council at March 22nd regular meeting. At that time there will be a request for $25,000 in matching funding put forth.
The project is in its initial stages and clinic space has yet to be determined, should the project be funded and approved.