Twenty-four hour health care has been confirmed for Airdrie.
Health Minster Stephen Mandel announced the provincial government will be partnering with the community to bring in a new health facility, which will include 24-hour emergency services, on March 30.
The partnership is based on the proposal that the Airdrie Health Foundation recently created.
“Airdrie is such a rapidly growing community and it’s an absolute thrill that the community has come up with one of the most innovative ideas of partnerships with the province,” said Mandel, who guaranteed the government’s commitment. “You will have 24-hour emergency centre… which you absolutely must have given the size of your community.”
The $35-million proposal, which MLA Rob Anderson brought forward to the Legislature earlier this month, is comprised of a 8,300-square-metre, three-storey health compound that will not only include access to 24-hour emergency health care, but also include office space for health professionals to lease and space for pharmacies and other privatized health care.
Although confirmed, details of the government’s contribution to the facility still need to be ironed out.
“The community has brought forward the proposal, they’re going to build a facility… that we will lease and operate, or we will buy into, there’s a variety of options,” said Mandel.
He explained the Province has set aside capital to contribute to the project, but couldn’t say the exact amount, although he mentioned it could be around the $4-million mark depending on partnership details.
“Either way we have capital set aside to do it, it’s just a matter of the community coming up with their plan and we will fit ourselves in,” said Mandel.
As for a time frame, Mandel said “as soon as possible,” but couldn’t give an exact date.
Michelle Bates, board vice-chair of the Airdrie Health Foundation, was moved to tears by the announcement.
Bates has been instrumental in bringing 24-hour health care to Airdrie, a cause she got behind when her five-year-old son Lane died in an ambulance on route to the hospital several years ago.
“This [announcement] takes a lot of anxiety away from me,” said the mother of two girls, adding it will be good to know people won’t have to leave the city to get emergency care.
“People listen better when reality is shoved in their face. Unfortunately it took our tragedy, but hopefully it will help prevent other tragedies from happening.”
MLA Rob Anderson, who also sits on the Airdrie Health Foundation board, was thrilled with the announcement.
“This is a great day for Airdrie, it’s something we’ve been fighting for for so long,”said the retiring MLA.
“What’s so exciting about this is that the people of Airdrie saw a need, and instead of waiting for the government to do something for them, we came together as a community and found a way to get it done.”
Mayor Peter Brown echoed Anderson’s statements.
“This was driven by community… it’s great,” said Brown.
Linda Bruce, former mayor, said that the announcement has been a long time coming.
“It’s honestly really good news, the community needs it,” said Bruce, who originally advocated for the opening of the current Urgent Care Facility, with the intent of having it become a 24-hour health facility.
Jeremy Klug, Airdrie’s Alberta Party candidate, released a statement questioning if the Province would follow through with the announcement.
“There is no plan here for a community health facility that meets the needs of Airdrie’s growing population of families and seniors, people still need to go to Calgary or Olds for acute care or for the birth of their child,” said Klug.