By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Coaldale residents in need of urgent care are unable to receive help in town after the province opted to close the doors of Coaldale’s urgent care department at the start of the pandemic.
In March 2020, the urgent care site in Coaldale was marked as, “temporarily closed”, and after two years, there are still no plans to re-open. During a regular council meeting on April 11, MLA for Taber-Warner Grant Hunter presented a delegation to Coaldale coun-cil. As the floor was opened up to council for questions, Mayor Jack van Rijn, read a letter from an affected res-ident expressing disappointment over the prolonged closure of the urgent care centre.
“We need to get our urgent care centre back,” said van Rijn. He continued to say people from Coaldale are unable to access care and opt to travel to Raymond to receive emergency medical attention there. “Raymond health care centre has a much more robust setup with less than half of the population of Coaldale,” he told Hunter during the meeting.
Mayor van Rijn read from a letter submitted by a resident impacted by the closure which asked if there were steps residents should be taking to petition the government to consider reinstating urgent care services in the town.
On behalf of one affected resident, van Rijn shared their correspondence with council. “Is there anyone we can petition to get the urgent care in Coaldale back up?”
The anecdote the mayor shared reflected a gap in medical services and outlined one resident’s inability to have their oxygen levels checked and were told nurses were, “legally not allowed to do anything”, here in town and were advised to travel to Taber.
As a result, patients are having to travel consider-able distances to get certain kinds of medical services such as stitches. The unnamed resident also reported, “the nurses I spoke to there were very frustrated at not being able to help and I know my Coaldale doctors also very frustrated, what a waste of our excellent local resources and infrastructure.”
In response to this, the MLA reported, “he did get
a brief back on this,” item, but added there were no plans to re-open at this time. “Let me keep on working on this one. They gave their rationale for the reasons it was changed. I wasn’t completely comfortable with their arguments. I think that I could probably make some other arguments. Maybe we can take this offline and talk about this.”
“To be able to elicit the change we need on that is going to take some time and so I’ve heard the value proposition you have presented. I’ve seen it in your question. I think there is an argument to be made, and I think we need to keep on working on that.”
The topic of healthcare was also brought up with MP Rachael Thomas earlier this month when Lethbridge County council met virtually with MP Rachael Thomas and spoke to other concerns in the region with respect to healthcare and the level of service available to county residents. Campbell said the county has also been in talks with City of Lethbridge to find collaborative solutions to other unique challenges faced by patients in the AHS south zone. “We offered to the City, anything we could help in that cause trying to bring awareness to the unique challenges we have in the south in our AHS zone and how a lack of doctors in the city impacts our residents in the county.” Campbell also noted the, “ concerns of the ongoing issues we have with AHS pertaining to ambulance and dispatch,”
Mayor van Rijn requested a more in-depth brief at an upcoming meeting, to be held in May, but for now, Coaldale residents will have to continue to seek emergency medical services in other municipalities and wait to hear an update on re-opening the centre.