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Hearts for Health Care (H4H) went above and beyond their fundraising goal at this year’s gala in Cold Lake.

The gala, which took place on May 7, raised over $210,000.

“We typically raise anywhere between $200,000 and $280,000. But this year, with the recession, I was hopeful for just $100,000,” said Theresa Nickel, executive director for H4H. “I was surprised when we doubled that amount.”

According to Nickel, the generous amount was even more surprising as the gala sold fewer tickets than previous years.

“We had about 500 people this year, so there was even 140 people less. And with the fires going on at the same time and people donating to that, it was quite shocking for us that we were still able to fundraise so much,” said Nickel.

“Everybody at the gala was just very generous with buying all of the silent auction items and people were buying up the live auction like crazy. It’s just kind of amazing and everybody was being so generous. It’s very appreciated.”

The gala is a major source of revenue for H4H who work to attract doctors to the Lakeland area and help to provide new medical equipment to the area’s hospitals.

The money fundraised from this year’s gala will be going towards the purchase of new medical equipment as well as H4H’s incentive program to retain new doctors in the area.

“The hospital is looking at hiring a few doctors with this coming year, so we need to set aside some money for the physician incentive program,” said Nickel.

“We have $20,000 for each physician that comes in. We help them with living expenses. Some of the money goes towards finding them a rental property that’s furnished and we rent that for them for three months. We also line them up with a three month rental car, three months for a cell phone and then we usually pay off their first month of clinic fees.”

As far as new equipment, Nickel says that H4H will be working closely with the area’s hospitals to determine the community’s needs.

“We’ll look at prioritizing equipment by getting lists from the hospital manager,” said Nickel. “Then we go through to see what would have the most impact on the community.”


Article in Cold Lake Sun: 

By Célina Ip

The City of Cold Lake is working on an incentive package to attract more physicians to the area.

Since 2006, the availability of physicians in Cold Lake has been one of city council’s top priorities.

Despite community initiatives and an overall increase in physicians throughout rural Alberta, there has been no significant increase in the number of physicians in Cold Lake from 2006 to 2016.

In the last ten years, physicians have consistently come and gone which has resulted in a net zero gain in the number of physicians.

Cold Lake currently has 12 doctors, one surgeon and two nurse practitioners for its population of 15,000. In comparison, the Town of Bonnyville’s website lists twenty one active physicians.

This past year, city council has been meeting regularly with staff from the Cold Lake Hospital, local physicians and Hearts for Health Care to come up with a solution.

During a recent meeting, it was suggested Cold Lake implement an interest-free loan to support the recruitment and retention of doctors in the community. The loan could enhance the existing programs offered by Hearts for Health Care.

At the May 17 corporate priorities meeting, councillors discussed the proposed $50,000 interest-free loan incentive package.

“I think we should go for the $50,000. It’s self-sustaining and a one-time thing. The money will be paid back,” said Coun. Darrell MacDonald.

Other councillors along with Mayor Craig Copeland echoed MacDonald’s thoughts.

“We’re a few doctors short and the idea is we really need to try to provide a little bit of a nugget. We’re trying to get more doctors in our community and right now we’ve got one doctor who is committed to coming to Cold Lake in the fall,” said Copeland.

“We hope to have this package in place for that doctor when she gets here. The $50,000 could make a great down payment on a brand new house in Cold Lake.”

City administration will prepare a formal policy to be brought back to an upcoming council meeting.

Article in the Cold Lake Sun: 

By Célina Ip

New doctors are on their way to Cold Lake.

During the Hearts for Hospital gala on May 7, Hearts for Health Care chair Greg Sylvestre announced a Calgary-based doctor had recently signed on to join the community in the coming months.

Sylvestre championed the success of the physician recruitment incentive program, but stressed the organization is working with the Municipal District of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake to bring further improvements.

“Our goal is to attract four more physicians over the next two years. Hopefully two more within the next year,” Sylvestre said.

“We’ve arranged for housing throughout the past few months for two local visiting physicians covering for Dr. Ladd on her maternity leave. All costs covered by Hearts for Health Care.

Cold Lake could also be getting two new specialists.

Sylvestre announced Alberta Health Services has confirmed Cold lake will receive funding for a full-time obstetrician and a part-time gynecologist.

“This is a huge development for our community,” Sylvestre said.

“Dr. Stander and the physicians at the hospital are working diligently to fill those roles. I know when (the specialists) get here they’re going to be very impressed with the facilities and equipment at their disposal.”

That equipment includes state-of-the-art birthing beds, heart rate monitors and bilibeds for newborns, funded in part by Hearts for Health Care.

Sylvestre also trumpeted the organization’s contributions to ambulances for the city. While the organization can’t do everything, he said, they are doing their best within the rules and resources they have.

“I believe we’ve been very strong advocates for Cold Lake,” he said. “I believe our efforts have made a very positive impact.”


By Peter Lozinski, Cold Lake Sun

The Government of Alberta has announced its plans to increase access to midwifery care throughout the province.

On March 30, Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman reaffirmed the NDP government’s desire to work with health care partners in order to expand options for expectant mothers in Alberta.

“Midwives give expecting mothers an alternative option that is safe, compassionate and effective. This government recognizes the excellent and efficient care that midwives provide. I’m very proud that this government has expanded midwifery care in Alberta,” said Hoffman in a press release.

“Over the coming days, Associate Minister Brandy Payne and myself are meeting with advocacy groups and the Alberta Association of Midwives. We have a lot to talk about, and I know we share a desire to work together.”

This past September, the government increased midwifery funding by $1.8 million, enough to support 400 more courses of midwifery care to raise the total number of births by midwives to 2,774.

According to Associate Minister of Health Minister Brandy Payne, the government is considering a further increase in funding for midwifery care as they prepare for the next budget.

“We’re still working through our budgeting process for the upcoming fiscal year and we’ll be announcing the budget by mid April. We’re still working through the details of what exactly that’s going to look like but we know that there will be some good news in the budget for midwifery and for expectant moms,” said Payne.

“One of the challenges that midwifery faces currently is due to the way funding was set up by the previous government... it separated midwifery from other obstetrical care and so that is definitely one of the things that we’re calling to review.”

The Tree De La Vie Midwife Clinic in Lac La Biche is the only rural clinic northeast of Edmonton, and sees clients from Cold Lake, Bonnyville and even Lloydminster and Fort McMurray.

The midwives also serve Boyle and Athabasca, communities which don’t have any obstetrical care at all.

While the clinic is popular and only opened four month ago, the midwives fear if they don’t get more stable funding, they will have to close.

The government will be working closely with the Alberta Association of Midwives (AAM) and the College of Midwives of Alberta (CMA) to ensure midwifery services are accessible to expectant mothers across Alberta.

“The Alberta Association of Midwives (AAM) is encouraged by Minister Hoffman’s remarks that her government values and is committed to growing midwifery,” said AAM President Nicole Matheson.

“We look forward to meeting with Minister Hoffman and discussing how to meet the strong demand from expecting mothers in a way that supports midwives and most importantly, serves pregnant women and their babies.”

Upon determining the total midwifery funding for the upcoming fiscal year, the government will be looking at various factors to properly allocate the extra courses of care across the province.

“There’s a challenge of determining where those courses of care are allocated. We’ll be working with our partners to ensure we’ve got availability of midwifery services across the province, based on where the need is highest,” said Payne “We’ll be looking at a combination of where people are pregnant but then also at what other obstetrical services are available in each community.”

Cold Lake Sun - Monday, April 4, 2016 12:35:33 MDT PM

This February, Albertans are encouraged to listen to their heart.

February is Heart Wellness Month - a national campaign dedicated to pushing Canadians towards healthy lifestyle habits to improve their cardiovascular health.

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, heart disease is responsible for 20 per cent of Canadian deaths and 1 in 5 Canadians will die of a heart attack.

Stress is a major cause of all heart issues, the foundation says, and it’s critical for people to take preventative measures before it’s too late.

As many Albertans are experiencing increased stress levels due to the slump in oil, weakened dollar and countless layoffs - their heart health may be at risk.

Now more than ever, Albertans are encouraged to find healthy and balanced ways to deal with monitor their stress levels.

To help Albertans kick start their new lifestyle towards improved cardiovascular health, RCA Diagnostics’ radiologist and cardiac imaging specialist Dr. Stephen Valentine offered his insight on the subject.

“The majority of heart attacks are caused by plaque which forms within the blood vessels and the plaque then narrows the vessels so that the blood that’s provided to the various body parts is compromised,” Valentine said .

“So if the blood vessels that supply your heart are clogged with plaque then that puts your heart at risk for a heart attack just like if the blood vessels that supply your brain with blood are clogged then that puts you at risk for a stroke.”

According to Valentine, the top five factors that can lead to plaque accumulation include cigarette smoke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol problems and even stress.

“Stress contributes to elevation in blood pressure and it also contributes to alteration in the normal cholesterol profile within the body,” he said.

Valentine lists a healthy and happy lifestyle along with physical fitness as the best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.

“Keeping your body weight within a healthy area, not smoking, not drinking to excess, getting enough sleep and just surrounding yourself with pleasant people and undertaking pleasant activities.”

Valentine encourages all to make these simple but important lifestyle changes to help maintain a healthy and happy heart.

“I think it’s important for people to realize what a common problem heart disease is and how it kills so many more Canadians or Americans than any other disease,” he said.

“Roughly 18 to 20 per cent of men and women are affected by heart disease. So we encourage people to live lives that will minimize their risk.”

Article in Cold Lake Sun: Monday, January 25, 2016 3:22:53 MST PM