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If you are in the mood for something fun this New Year’s Eve and would like to support a local charity, you may want to consider a murder mystery dinner theatre, hosted by Cold Lake’s Gideon Studios.

The 70‘s-themed show is centred around Ricky Banks, an eccentric millionaire, who is throwing a New Year’s Eve party at the Best Western Hotel. A murder occurs and everyone in attendance is a suspect.

“Come join in the fun and bring in the New Year with a blast; it’s going to be a killer event,” says Carolyn Baker, with Gideon Studios.

Tickets are $69.95 each and available at Cold Lake Dental Centre and Gideon Studios. For more information, you can call 780-815-0088.

Guests are encouraged to dress in 1970’s attire.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to Hearts for Healthcare.

Over the last five years, there’s been a 50% increase in emergency room visits at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.

ER visits went from 20,215 in 2005 to 30,312 in 2010.

To respond to the increased need, Alberta Health Services recently added evening and weekend Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) positions.

Cold Lake nursing staff identified the need for extra coverage during those periods, and the request was approved.

The two additional positions will help ensure that patients are seen promptly and prioritized based on the urgency of their condition, according to Mark Evans, communications spokesperson with AHS.

Reducing Emergency Department wait times is one of the strategies identified in the province’s 5-Year Health Action Plan.


 IMG_2180Visiting new moms and babies in the comfort of their own home just got easier for public health nurses in Cold Lake.

Hearts for Healthcare has purchased an additional portable baby scale for Community Health Services, so nurses can share the equipment and schedule more visits.

“It’s so nice not to have to juggle scales and rearrange schedules, to have a scale available when we need it,” says Jeanette Lester, the team lead for public health nurses in Cold Lake.

Last year, there were 320 babies born in Cold Lake. A public health nurse visits each one of those moms and babies the day after they leave the hospital.

With many women being discharged less than 24 hours after delivery, Lester says the home visits are extremely important.

“The scale is so important, to make sure the baby’s weight isn’t dropping more than 10% of their birth weight. We’ve had a lot of little babies born early, so it’s really key to make sure they are gaining weight well,” adds Lester. New mothers also receive breast-feeding advice during the visit.

In addition to the scale, Hearts for Healthcare also purchased an additional ear thermometer for the Health Unit.

Ear thermometers are the preferred method of taking a temperature, especially with small babies and fussy children.

In total, the grant to Community Health Services totaled $565; a small price to pay for such an important service in Cold Lake.

“We’re just so happy that Hearts for Healthcare recognizes us in the community and is helping to promote the health of babies,” adds Lester.


Pictured above: Public health nurse Danielle Tobin weighs Kaibree Tomkinson during a recent check-up.

IMG_2557With a McCafe coffee in hand, restaurant owner Ben Land proudly surveys the “new” Cold Lake McDonalds.

The 52-year-old businessman has just completed a major renovation of his popular restaurant. But perhaps more importantly, he’s recently done a major overhaul on his life.

“I’ve slowed down. For me, good was never good enough; it always had to be the best. And with that came the go-go attitude and stress,” says Land, who moved to Cold Lake four years ago to take over the franchise.

A combination of an unknown, inherited illness, a busy lifestyle, and untreated high blood pressure resulted in a health scare that almost cost him his life.

One morning in late August, while working in his restaurant, Land felt sudden and severe chest pain. He lost consciousness and woke up to six of his staff members crowded around him.

“They were taking my socks off, massaging my feet, giving me sugar, one was praying and someone else was calling 911,” says Land, who is affectionately known as “Sir Ben” to his staff.

Within minutes, three ambulances arrived at the restaurant and took Land to the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre. The doctors and nurses working in the Emergency Department immediately recognized his case as serious. They stabilized him and quickly organized a Medevac flight to Edmonton. 

“The nurses, I can remember them, being very upbeat. And, the doctor called my wife,” says Land, who remembers only parts of the ordeal.

At the Royal Alex Hospital in Edmonton, he was diagnosed with an aortic dissection, or tear, in the main artery leading to his heart. He was quickly transferred to the University Hospital and underwent a five hour operation. Fortunately for him, the tear was in its early stage.

The hereditary condition claimed the lives of his mother and brother. It’s potentially life-threatening, with a mortality rate of 50%.

After the operation to repair the artery, Land knew he had come dangerously close to death.

“I realized how the medical system came through. We always complain about not enough beds and all these long waits, but there was never a shortage of attention or manpower for me right from my staff, to the paramedics, to the nurses and doctors, they were all over me, without hesitation,” he adds.

Land is expected to make a full recovery, but he is being careful to take it easy, live a healthy lifestyle and now takes medication to control his blood pressure.

He recently delivered a plaque to the staff at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre, thanking them for the care he received.

"There are people who saved my life and I wated to reward them. How do you reward the hospital? I guess Hearts for Healthcare is one way."

He was also impressed with the paramedics and home care personnel who treated him after the ordeal, upon his return to Cold Lake.

“You need to enjoy life, enjoy your family. It’s payback time, now it’s time for me to do my thank you’s to the hospital, society, staff and my family."

IMG_2177In just one short year, Cold Lake’s hospital has seen an influx of new equipment and upgrades, provided by both Hearts for Healthcare and Alberta Health Services.

Many items that had been on the hospital’s wish list for some time have been struck off the list, according to Hospital Manager Steve Marcotte.

A brand new ultrasound machine, new emergency and operating room lights, scope equipment, cataract surgery set-ups and a C-arm for radiology services were provided by AHS. Marcotte recently announced that one of two new maternity beds needed on the third floor, is also now being funded by AHS.

He estimates the value of new equipment at over $400,000.

“Since AHS has come to be, there has been a better purchasing power due to the size of the organization. The Cold Lake Healthcare Centre has been in need of upgrades, and with the approval from executive and the input from staff we have been able to have a lot of these things installed,” says Marcotte.

Staff is thrilled with the new equipment, and so is the Hearts for Healthcare Coalition, which has been pushing for modernization of the local hospital, since the group came together two years ago.

“The community’s participation in voicing concerns about healthcare and supporting fundraising initiatives has garnered a lot of attention, and has contributed to some degree in our hospital receiving a significant amount of new equipment. Mr. Marcotte has also been a great advocate for our hospital, and deserves much of the credit,” according to Greg Sylvestre, Chair of the Hearts for Healthcare Coalition.

For its part, Hearts for Healthcare has also been working to enhance hospital equipment and provide some “extras” for Community Health Services as well.


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