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St. Walburg Mayor weighs in on regional health matters

The mayor of St. Walburg is commenting on the 15-point priority list put out by the Lloydminster & District Health Advisory Council (LDHAC).

Nancy Schneider who is in her second year in office has signed on to the health group. St. Walburg is home to over 700 people served by a health clinic. With the nearest ER being about 20 kms away at the Turtleford Hospital, they use Lloydminster for their regional hospital services.

She says their big concern is getting medical staff who will make St. Walburg their home.

“Our pressure point is recruitment of physicians and mental health therapists who are going to stay; who are from our community or wanting to be part of our community and that’s their (LDHAC) fourth point. Currently we have a physician and a mental health therapist and they are from our community.”

She says both professionals are willing to work for a few days a week. They wish to remain in the community and offer their services in that manner. The mayor is asking the SHA to consider hiring them in that capacity.

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“We are working with the health authority to get this rolling. It just makes sense that we have local people delivering health services. It stops the revolving door of people coming and going.”

Schneider says their community wants people to come to St. Walburg. She highlights the medical need saying that a community member had their son waiting for two months to see a mental health counsellor.

Schneider says they have had discussions with their community partners in surrounding areas and as well a meeting with Rural health minister Everett Hindley. She says the minister indicated they came with solutions.

“One of the things that we said is, when you are unable to hire you have what they call vacancy discount. That’s a layman’s term, but it is those unused dollars. And my thought is use those dollars for these types of professionals, because you know you’re going to have a percentage every year that is unused because of vacancies. So just roll that back in.”

Schneider looks at some of the positives like their regional partnership with Border City Connects who is offering transportation services to residents with medical appointments in urban centres. She dishes on their Rural Medical Transportation Pilot.

“We’ve connected with Border City Connects who offers this service in Lloydminster. And they have gone to be good partners with the outlying areas. So people can get to non-emergencies, so just a doctor’s appointment or a dentist or a mental wellness appointment. They will come and pick them up. Door-to-door service.”

The RMs of Frenchman Butte, Mervin as well as Turtleford, Paradise Hill and St. Walburg are all onboard for this venture and Schneider says the new service is filling that need for people who have appointments and don’t drive.

Schneider is happy for the upgrade coming for dialysis in Lloydminster and with Border City Connects their patients will be able to come to Lloydminster for dialysis rather than go to Saskatoon.

Another plus for their area is the work of their ambulance service and WestMed paramedics who serve about 12,000 square kilometres, says Schneider.

“They actually are the lifesavers. So we don’t have an emergency room in St. Walburg but we have the paramedics and that is really something to have in a small town, that we have that level of service.”

She says they want their health centre to thrive and want a return of acute care beds which they had in the past.

Schneider sees the need for expansion at the Lloydminster Hospital and the inclusion of an ICU.

“This is what I believe as a person who lives here, that it (the hospital) would be expanded as the region grew. It has grown but there is no expansion. Do we have an ICU? We should have an ICU. We have physicians who have those qualifications. So we should be able to offer those services and we will retain physicians if we have more of what they want to do in their practice.”

Her concerns on the 15-point plan of the LDHAC also resound with the need for more ambulances and greater mental health supports.

Schneider concludes they want to come to Lloydminster as their regional hospital rather than Saskatoon, as it’s quite a bit of mileage especially in the winter.

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