Airdrie-East Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Angela Pitt has confirmed that the previously paused renovations on the City's Community Health Centre will be resuming shortly.

DiscoverAirdrie spoke to MLA Pitt on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after she had met with the province's Health Minister, Adriana LaGrange. Pitt said she was very happy to share the news that the renovations would be resuming.

"I've always supported the renovation of the urgent care facility," she said.

When asked what her thoughts were on the previous announcement of the renovations being paused, MLA Pitt said that it came down to looking at whether other options were a better use of taxpayer funds.

"At the end of the day, Airdrie needs a renovation; we need a new urgent care facility, and we need a hospital," she said.

MLA Pitt said she was not able to foresee whether the delay in the renovations will have an impact on the timeline of the renovations being completed before the end of 2024; though she did say that the healthcare proposal by One Health and QUALICO Communities is still being considered.

"The proposal on the table is still being worked out. Hopefully, it's a good news project for the people of Airdrie. But in the interim, we know that we need to proceed with the urgent care renovations when we explore all over all other options," Pitt added.

With the provincial budget being announced on Thursday, Pitt reiterated she is very hopeful that there will be funding for schools in Airdrie.

"Any funding that comes into our community to deal with our high growth pressures, but I haven't seen the budget. I won't see the budget until it's tabled tomorrow, but I'm hoping there's some good news for us coming up. There are lots of things also potentially happening on top of the renovation here for us. We're working, we're moving, [and] we're trying to address the issues for the people of Airdrie."

In January, officials for the province's Health Ministry confirmed the pause on renovations to the health centre after they received a new joint proposal from One Health and QUALICO Communities.

One Health Associate Medical is an Airdrie-based clinic, that lists its services as, 'full-service medical clinic offering timely access to urgent and ongoing health concerns,' while QUALICO Communities is a Calgary-based land developer, with an Airdrie housing development in the city's Southwest known as Vantage Rise. 

Previously, officials said that the pause was to, 'ensure Albertans receive value for money spent.'

"Once the proposal by One Health is better defined and more information is received, the Alberta government will be able to determine if the project should move forward as planned or if changes to its scope and funding are recommended or required."

The news of the pause on the health centre's $8.4 million renovations previously became known to the Airdrie Health Foundation last month. Michelle Bates, Executive Director of the organization expressed her disappointment at the news and previously told DiscoverAirdrie, that she hoped the renovations would resume sooner rather than later.

On Wednesday afternoon when asked for comment on the most recent development, Bates said that she was happy to hear that the renovations were moving forward. She underlined that all efforts must be made to formulate a long-term viable plan to address healthcare needs in Airdrie, including pushing forward with a hospital.

Bates added that a facility that will include chemotherapy therapies, labour and delivery, better care for geriatric patients, as well dialysis, and expanded services regarding mental health, speech, audiology, home care, as well as palliative care, are all part of the bigger picture.

Bates said that the possibility of a North Calgary/ Airdrie hospital also needs to be clarified, and she hopes that it will be located in Airdrie. MLA Pitt said that there is a hospital study that is currently being worked and and she anticipates its completion will give more clarity to future planning.

She noted that the planned renovations were to change the floor plan of the centre resulting in more Urgent Care beds. Among other things, this included adding another triage, as well as bringing the RAZ [Rapid Assessment Zone] and UC beds closer together, which would increase the size of the waiting room. 

Last month's announcement of the pause on the renovations also garnered criticism from Friends of Medicare, a non-profit, non-partisan coalition which advocates universal public healthcare. Previously, Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of the group said he was skeptical of the proposed plan and its lack of transparency

City of Airdrie statistics show that Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre sees upwards of 46,000 patients per year, reporting an average of 139 patients per day.

In 2017, the operating hours were expanded to offer services at the centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week in April 2017.

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