During the Drumheller Town Council Meeting on Monday, December 19th, a presentation was brought forward to council by the Drumheller Standing Committee On Health.
The committee presented to council a letter that they plan to send to the Minister of Health, Jason Copping, and Dr. John Cowell of Alberta Health Services on how there could be increased usage at the Drumheller Health Centre. Chair of the Drumheller Standing Committee on Health, Keith Hodgson shares that our hospital was meant to be a hub. “When this hospital was opened back in 2002, it had been designed to be a regional hub and would have had a lot more functionality in it, however we were just in the start of centralizing the medical care system. It was originally downsized once when it became the David Thompson Region, and downsized again when it became part of the Central Zone, operated out of Red Deer.”
This letter follows a report that the Province and Alberta Health Services are looking to expand services in rural Alberta. “Our committee was following news releases (from the province) and saw the linkage between the move towards rural health facilities, better utilization, and the fact that our facility was already set up and capable of doing a lot of those things that they (AHS) want to move,” shares Hodgson. “There is also equipment that has been purchased by the Drumheller Health Foundation and others, through the years, that isn’t fully utilized here. For a small amount of money, generally in staffing and training, this facility could be better utilized.”
Within the letter, the committee shares that the operating room at the Drumheller Health Centre is under-utilized. The current system forces rural patients to spend 2 or more days away from work for day procedures versus just one day. Increasing our OR capacity by providing more OR time for our local surgeons, as well as having urban surgeons coming out to our OR to perform day procedures would increase the amount of surgery times available to Albertans. “By providing more opportunities for doctors and nurses in Drumheller, it’s good for the community and it’s really good for the hospital,” notes Hodgson.
Hodgson and the committee also believes that by increasing utilization at the Drumheller Health Centre, the result could relieve some of the current pressures on the EMS system. Having more procedures being able to be completed here, would limit the amount of patient transfers currently performed by ambulances of AHS.
The committee hopes that this letter results in increased usage of the Drumheller Health Centre and its amenities, which will not only benefit Drumheller, but many of the communities around our area. The letter has received support from Mayor Heather Colberg, all of the Reeves of Kneehill, Wheatland, and Starland Counties, the mayors of Munson, Carbon, and Morrin, as well as the doctors of our community. Both MLA Nate Horner and MLA Nathan Cooper have supported this letter as well.