The costs and timeline of a new health proposal brought forward by One Health and QUALICO Communities are comparable to the cost and time to renovate the city's community health centre, this according to Dr. Julian Kyne, an Airdrie physician involved in the project proposal.
Alberta Health is currently reviewing the proposal and as such has paused planned renovations to the city's community health centre.
Questions surrounding funds that were allocated for renovations
In previous comments, Airdrie City Mayor, Peter Brown said that he was aware that as part of the proposal, the request was to reroute funds from the AUC [Airdrie Urgent Care] renovations to the new project.
Dr. Kyne, however, said that from his understanding, the ultimate decision on how funds will be spent or not spent rests with Alberta Health.
"Just looking from the outside, if you're not going to proceed with renovations, then what are you going to do with that money? I think that question is very legitimate."
In a written statement to DiscoverAirdrie, an official for Alberta Health reiterated that renovations to the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre are on hold 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."
Alberta Health also added that the previously allocated funds to the renovation project are being held within the Capital Maintenance and Renewal program.
"The provision of health services in Airdrie is a priority and Alberta’s government will ensure that any health project in the community provides high-quality care," Alberta Health stated.
Where did it all begin?
Dr. Kyne, who was instrumental in starting Urgent Care in Airdrie decades ago and who was also the lead physician for several years said that the proposal was spurred from observing the challenges that Airdrie has faced for many years with both primary and urgent care.
"We've been fairly underserved over the years [and have been] having difficulty keeping up with the growing population. We were looking at our clinic, One Health and saying we wanted to increase our service to the community because there were issues with patients finding family doctors and issues with patients being able to be seen promptly."
Dr. Kyne observed that Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre was also servicing residents who were coming to Urgent Care because there were no other options.
"We then came up with - because of the coincidence that things were looking to change around urgent care - we said, is there a better way to address both these issues, because they are somewhat linked in that huge number of patients are showing up in urgent care, where, if they had a family doctor, there would be no need for them to go to urgent care."
Costs and timelines of renovations vs. new health proposal
When asked if it would have been possible to continue renovations on the city's community health centre, while exploring the new proposal in tandem, Dr. Kyne said that there were several concerns regarding the cost-effectiveness of the renovations themselves.
"[It's] often much more challenging construction to accomplish, because you're going to be constructing while people are trying to continue on working and you're retrofitting into a space that is quite old, to begin with; and was never designed as an urgent care from the outset."
Previously, Michelle Bates, Executive Director of the Airdrie Health Foundation had said that the renovations, which were to begin this month would mean a change in 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.
"I think it warranted a second look at what are we doing here, because in the time it takes to get these renovations done, do you have a brand new purpose-built urgent care in the same timeline?" Dr. Kyne added
While no concrete dates were given, Dr. Kyne said that the timeline for the new project proposal could be comparable to renovations being completed at the urgent care centre, which was slated to be finished by the end of 2024.
Although Dr. Kyne said he could not give an exact figure on the price tag for the new health proposal, he also said that it would be comparable to $8.4 million, the same dollar amount previously allocated to the renovations.
Concerns over 'privately delivered, publically funded'
Concerns have been echoed about how exactly this health proposal would come to fruition.
The Airdrie Health Foundation had said that they were told the new option would be 'privately delivered, publically funded', though Dr. Kyne added that this is a slight misnomer.
"I look at things as any physician's office is private in the sense that the doctor either rents or owns their clinic. When you come into the office, your visit is publicly funded by Alberta Health; so, there's no real change in any of that. That's what our system is built on here."
When asked how a new facility may be staffed, Dr. Kyne said they are proposing an innovative solution, cost-effective solution.
He added that One Health has trained well over 20 medical residents over the last several years, with partnerships through the University of Calgary.
"We have young doctors who were training and a lot of them who've expressed a lot of interest in newer, better models."
There are plans that in the future there will be public engagement in the process.
"We'll be doing a lot of community outreach to present the ideas and get the community aware and onboard with what we're proposing if it comes forward."
Alberta Health has not indicated a timeline for when the project proposal review will be finished.
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