The rain poured outside the Lloydminster Legacy Centre and for hockey lovers the Battle of Alberta pressed them to their screens, but for health advocates the room was filled as they came out to speak to the hutton button issues concerning Lloydminster and area.
Officials and health administrators from both Alberta and Saskatchewan were present to speak to the gathering and then stick around for in-person conversations. That second portion lasted another hour and half as discourse ranging from the seamless flow of information to the lack of an ICU at the Lloydminster Hospital held officials captive.
Other pressing matters include wait times at the hospital which prompt people to drive 30-minutes to Vermilion or Maidstone for ER attention rather than wait for more than an hour to be seen by a doctor.
The Lloydminster & District Health Advisory Council or L&DHAC has a 15-point Priority List that includes expansion or renovation of the 1986-built hospital to cater to the growing population of not just the Border City but the surrounding communities that they estimate to be at least 75,000 people.
Andy Ridge, assistant deputy minister at Alberta Health on his first visit to the bi-provincial locale noted the unique concerns of serving health needs across two jurisdictions. He said he heard from residents about the need to streamline access to medical records as people are constantly on the move between the two provinces, and as well the need to source more family doctors and medical staff.
“There are challenges globally in getting skilled practitioners in healthcare. I think there is also a need to make sure we have a good planning horizon. Even if we have all the resources in our hands you also have to know how to properly allocate them.”
Ridge indicated he would be taking these issues back to Edmonton particularly as they pay “real attention to how Lloydminster fits, and our collaboration with Saskatchewan, challenging just how well they are aligned.”
Health matters in the Border City are governed by the MOU which was renewed last July spelling out the intention to work together on joint health related issues between the two provinces.
Paul Richer, chair of the L&DHAC was happy to see the full house on a hockey night. He welcomed the community input as they seek to move the needle forward.
“We are going to take that information to see what we are missing and see if we can help support some of those ideas that might come forward.”
Other matters raised in the 15-point plan are a permanent MRI unit, children’s unit, mental health, chemotherapy, the relocation of kidney dialysis and more operating rooms.
The Lloydminster & District Health Advisory Council advocates for regional health services view face to face meetings with the two provinces as paramount.