Update on Regional Health Care Initiative

Committee continues to make strides in improving health care in our region

Representatives from Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Elk Point, the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville and County of St. Paul gathered to discuss opportunities for regional health care. Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski says the group is in the committee phase with the intention of uniting voices and powers to bring better health care and more opportunities to the region.

“We’re trying to work towards a [Regional Health Care] initiative; which we all agree there is a need,” explains Mayor of Bonnyville Gene Sobolewski. The idea of regionalizing health care was brought to the Town of Bonnyville’s attention by Dr. Hendrik Van Der Watt of the Bonnyville Hospital. That idea grew quickly as local area Mayors and Reeves jump on to support an initiative to improve health care services. The idea is now a committee made up of health care practitioners and Mayors Gene Sobolewski, Craig Copeland (Cold Lake), Glenn Andersen (St. Paul), and Parrish Tung (Elk Point); along with representatives from the MD of Bonnyville and the County of St. Paul.

We’re doing it as one voice, not as independent municipalities; we’re doing it as one big, large, region – that cannot be ignored! – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville

The committee sees regionalizing health care as each community provide a service(s) which they are strong at and build that service(s) to be among the best in the Province. This is help eliminate the need to travel to areas such as Edmonton or Calgary for health care services. Some examples tossed around the table would be mental health in St. Paul, obstetrics and surgeries in Bonnyville, CT scans and other medical testing in Cold Lake. “We have the potential and we have the capability. But we have these mind-numbing policies and bureaucrats in Edmonton.”

“The system, that is set up under Alberta Health Care, just isn’t working. It’s rural residents that are paying the price for folks in the larger cities making policies on our behalf and that don’t really have an understanding of the impacts that they’re forcing upon us,” explains Mayor Sobolewski.”For example, Elk Point, a facility that has a lot of potential, but is continually being strangled. Our pathology being strangled, CT in Cold Lake being able to put up to 24 hour usage, being strangled,” the Mayor explains there is a general belief among the group that there is a lack of funding going into facilities is the region. “Yet AHS can go and build massive add-ons on the Royal Alex (Edmonton). It’s just frustrating.”

This is about the people and their quality of life. It’s about Rural Alberta and our patients being able to have the quality & level of health care without having to make the intrusive trips or the waiting for services. – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville

“It’s one voice, bringing together the needs and trying to reinforce our needs,” Mayor Sobolewski explains, “under the Municipal Government Act we are to ensure the health and safety of our communities and this is part of it. We certainly aren’t getting any attention from the bureaucrats.”

 

“We’re at the committee stage, the next stage is to try to get dialogue going with the powers that be at Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health.” Mayor Sobolewski says the committee had excellent feedback from the Health Minister, Sarah Hoffman, when she visited the region in late March. “She was very much excited about this type of an initiative.”