By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig sent a letter recently to Alberta Health Services (AHS), as a follow up to a concern brought forward by a member of the Coaldale and District Chamber of Commerce at a recent meeting.
“An alarm was raised that service was being substantially diminished at the hospital,” said Craig, at a Town of Coaldale council meeting held Apr. 27. Delegates from AHS paid a visit to council chambers to set the record straight, in regards to local concerns about the health centre in Coaldale, where rumours are afloat. “There are no planned changes to service levels,” said Grant Walker, AHS vice-president of community projects South Zone. He added the site is going through a renovation due to the loss of the community health building in Coaldale. “We moved our programming into the health centre and made it work. The work we’re doing right now, as far as renovations are concerned, is to make the space we have available at the health centre more appropriate for the programming we have there now,” he noted.
To have all of our community-based and health services in one location, Walker said, is something AHS has been striving to do across the South Zone. “This really enhances service delivery, integration between staff and communication.”
Renovations occurring at the health centre include enhancing space to provide clinic space for home care, public health and a multi-use clinic space such as immunization. “We want it to be as flexible as possible — to make good use of the space.”
The treatment area will be retained as is, Walker added, but will be enhanced with a better medication area and security, a different nursing station, enhanced washrooms and a home care area.
“We are re-developing the former gift shop area for a speech clinic for small children.”
Walker said the waiting room area will also be enhanced with new furniture and flooring. A garage is also being built on the premises for EMS purposes. Currently, the health centre shares space with EMS, and enhancements will also be made to accommodate the shared space. One of the services not affected by the renovations will be the 40 long-term care beds.
Environmental health officers will be utilizing space out of the health centre for touch-down space when in the community or surrounding area and the colonoscopy service will remain. Walker believes the renovations will begin approximately in June.
Coaldale’s emergency aspect of the health centre, Walker said, is for assessment and diagnosis of a patient needing care and ensuring the appropriate level of care is provided at another location if need be.
Coun. Jack Van Rijn asked if a patient came to the site after hours would the patient receive emergency care and he also asked if there was an RN on duty at all times at the health centre? Walker said the health centre has an RN on site 24/7 and 365 days a week.
Sean Chilton, AHS chief zone officer for the south said if a patient arrived at the facility with chest pain and the nurses knew they were there they would certainly help stabilize and probably call 9-1-1 and have the patient transferred to CRH in Lethbridge.
“As Grant said, there’s always an RN on duty and there is someone there that could respond. It’s not a 24-hour emergency department. But, we recognize people may show up,” said Chilton.
There is so much misinformation out there, Van Rijn noted, and it’s important to have dialogue for the citizens within the community.