Hearts for Healthcare committee member Eva Urlacher presents Pat Stang with the prize package she won at the AHS Staff Appreciation BBQ
Congratulations Pat Stang!
Pat was the winner of a great door prize up for grabs at the Hearts for Healthcare Staff Appreciation BBQ.
All Alberta Health Services staff and physicians were invited to a free lunch on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.
Pat’s name was drawn as the lucky winner of 2 green fees at the Grand Centre Golf and Country Club, 2 tickets to the Kinosoo Performing Arts Dinner Theatre and Tim Horton’s gift certificates.
The BBQ was held to thank healthcare workers for their hard work and dedication to the community.
They are the ones who care for us, but on Friday, September 10, Hearts for Healthcare gave hospital staff a little TLC.
The group hosted a hospital staff appreciation barbecue and treated staff to a free lunch and a chance to win prizes.
About 80 doctors, nurses and support workers took a break from their busy schedules to grab a quick bite.
“Healthcare professionals hold a position of extreme importance to our loved ones, sometimes in a crisis or emergency situation, where their alert and confident action is critical. Our Hearts for Healthcare committee wants to continue to show our heartfelt appreciation for their dedication,” says Coalition Coordinator Sharon Martin.
Martin says she was touched by the smiles and positive comments she received from staff about the event.
We would like to thank our volunteer chefs for the day -- Rob Brassard, Bob Buckle and Duane Lay. Also, a huge thank you goes out to Hamel’s Meats, Husky Market and an anonymous donor who sent along delicious desserts.
“The BBQ was a small gesture of thanks, hopefully, the first of many to come,” adds Martin.
There is a guarded sense of optimism in Cold Lake following news of a one million dollar injection of new equipment and infrastructure at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.
Genia Leskiw, MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake, says the funding is a start to rectifying issues at the local hospital.
She says $700,000 has been approved to modernize the operating room and building systems. Another $300,000 has been approved to purchase new surgical lights and upgrade sterilization equipment.
This summer, Alberta Health also purchased and installed a state-of-the-art digital ultrasound to replace one of two older models. The new machine will improve efficiency and provide the highest picture quality available.
“It’s one of the best machines you’d find anywhere in the world,” says Dr. Chander Gupta, a radiologist at the Cold Lake Health Centre.
All of these developments are a step in the right direction, according to Hearts for Healthcare Chairman Greg Sylvestre.
“I’m certainly glad we’re getting some response from the province. We’re getting some results. Are we getting our fair share of the pie? It’s difficult to say,” he adds.
Sylvestre says a large chunk of the money is going towards enhancing deficiencies in the building, which should not have occurred in the first place. For example, fire suppression equipment is likely part of the $700,000.
“It’s not moving as fast as some people would like,” admits Leskiw. “But we’re one hospital out of many,” she adds.
“Anything we get, we should celebrate and hope it’s a beginning.”
In less than a year, Shan Roth has made four trips to the emergency room – three times for her children and once for herself.
Like many new residents, the mother of three doesn’t have a family doctor and turns to the hospital Emergency Room for medical care.
Shan Roth couldn't find a family doctor when she moved to Cold Lake. Almost one year later, and she has one for herself and the baby, but not her two older children.
“It is stressful, because you know it has to be Emergency and you never know what kind of wait, or what you’re going to be faced with there,” says Roth, who moved from Calgary.
Since last winter, a total of four physicians have stopped practicing in Cold Lake for a variety of reasons. Two doctors retired, one passed away and another relocated to Edson. A fifth physician, Dr. Anshia Van Jaarsveld, who was considering leaving, has since decided to stay.
The situation is gradually improving. At least one new doctor, Dr. Pieter Meyer, has joined Lakeland Medical Clinic with another, Dr. Yolanda Prinsloo, scheduled to arrive this fall. There is also word of another doctor coming to Cold Lake Medical Clinic in January 2011.
Guidelines suggest a new doctor in a community can take between 1,200 – 2,000 new patients.
Another encouraging development is a Primary Care Network scheduled to open on the second floor of the hospital, offering unattached patients access to a physician through appointments.
“It (will) be wonderful for the small things, so you don’t have to burden a doctor in emergency and take up time and space for someone that could be in a more critical state,” says Roth, who now has a doctor for herself and the baby, but not her two older children.
In addition to Dr. Meyer and Dr. Prinsloo, Hearts for Healthcare has enough funding to help 4 additional doctors
set up practice in Cold Lake over the next two years.
The group assists physicians with travel costs to and from Edmonton, first month’s clinic overhead, three months rental accommodations, a rental vehicle and insurance for three months and a temporary cell phone.
With an expected expansion in the oil industry, the Mayor of Cold Lake estimates the city’s population could balloon by 3-5,000 next year.
Craig Copeland says hiring physicians now will help prepare for the expected influx of new workers.
The Cold Lake Healthcare Centre is hiring a nurse educator, who will train new and existing nurses to be qualified in obstetrics.
The position will help to ease scheduling concerns in the department and offer the best level of care to pregnant women, says Steve Marcotte, manager of the Cold Lake Health Care Centre.
Right now, there aren’t enough nurses trained in obstetrics, and the situation becomes strained when the only obstetrics nurse on duty is called away or on days off.
In those cases, it is not uncommon for laboring women to be sent to Bonnyville, Lloydminster or Edmonton to deliver their babies.
When it comes to childbirth, “a lot can go wrong in the three hour drive to Edmonton,” says Dr. Siegfriedt Heydenrych, Chief of Staff at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.
Having more obstetrical nurses would also mean an increased availability of epidurals for women who want them, says Dr. Heydenrych.
He says epidural rates at the Cold Lake hospital are around 15%, much lower than city hospitals, which average 80%. He says the inability to provide “one-to-one” nursing is part of the reason why.
One-to-one nursing is required during an epidural because of possible complications caused by the anesthetic.
Staffing is one of the key issues the new hospital manager is hoping to address.
“The vacancies are being filled with casuals right now, so we are maintaining, but it’s a matter of getting permanent and full time positions filled, so we can use casuals as back-up, because that’s what casuals are meant to be for,” says Steve Marcotte.
The hospital recently hired five licensed practical nurse (LPN) graduates from Portage College.
However, while LPN’s are able to receive the baby, they are not qualified to care for the mother after childbirth.
Hearts for Healthcare chairman Greg Sylvestre says 4 additional full-time nursing positions would help take some of the pressure off at the hospital.
“If we got funding for 4 nursing positions, we’d be ready to say we have a victory.”