Following the visit of the province’s Health Minister to Airdrie, Michelle Bates, the Airdrie Health Foundation’s Executive Director, who was also present at the meeting said that it was crucial for the minister to see how Airdrie’s Urgent Care works up close.
“The meeting went really well and we were able to show our concerns and express those concerns,” Bates said. “We were able to talk with AHS (Alberta Health Services) and the Health Minister and going forward, the next steps would be looking at short term [and] medium-term. We will make sure a long-term plan is set forth for Airdrie.”
Bates said long-term strategic visions and planning have yet to be established, but she underlined that the Urgent Care Centre in Airdrie is more than just that; the centre also houses among others, home care, speech, audiology, public health, and asthma clinics.
“When we're talking about a new facility and our challenges, it's not just for urgent care, of course, that's one of the biggest ones, as well as mental health. When we're looking ahead, our facility is small and we need to do some short-term planning to increase spaces for all clinics.”
Bates also pointed out that while the Airdrie Health Foundation can advocate on behalf of Airdronians, they are not in charge of policy-making or budgets, that is up to the province. And as much as Airdrie's city council and the mayor can also advocate, they can only do so much, considering healthcare is a provincial mandate. However, the more immediate goals are to continue to keep the momentum going when it comes to addressing the healthcare needs of the community.
“We need space in that building, so whether they move clinics out of the building to expand other clinics, and expand that clinic that moved out; We would like to see more treatment spaces and equipment in there,” she said.
These types of topics will be foundational in the continuing conversations that the foundation plans to have with provincial health officials. When asked to respond to concerns raised that there seem to be many conversations ongoing but little action being taken, Bates said that she understands the sentiments, however, she continues to be optimistic that the concerns are not only being heard but listened to and will be acted on.
“I'm very optimistic that things will come out of this visit. We have seen a lot of success. However, there's still a lot to do, there's no denying that and that's where we will keep advocating for this community, as we always have.”
Bates stressed that one of the things that the foundation has always been passionately pointing out is that Airdrie needs to be treated as its own municipality and not be referred to or lumped together with Calgary.
“I believe we're becoming a priority and moved up the priority list.”
For Bates, she continues to stress that since its inception, the Airdrie Health Foundation has put over $500,000 back into health care through equipment, programs, education, as well as renovations.
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