One Health Associate Medical is inviting Airdrie residents to two public engagement sessions in July regarding their proposal for a new Primary Care and Urgent Care Centre.

According to a press release, the sessions will last an hour, in which One Health will make a short presentation about their plans, which include the new purpose-built primary health care and urgent care facility, how they plan to increase the capacity of both Primary Health Care and Urgent Care, among other things.

"This is more than just a new urgent care,” said Dr. Julian Kyne. "The centre will provide a one-stop shop for most of your health care needs including primary health care, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, medical specialists and more."

The public engagement sessions will be held on Saturday, July 13 and Sunday, July 14, at 2:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. respectively at the Overtime Lounge, Ron Ebbesen Twin Arena.

One Health Associate Medical is an Airdrie-based clinic, that lists its services as, a 'full-service medical clinic offering timely access to urgent and ongoing health concerns.'

The news comes several weeks after Mayor Brown, in his State of the City address, also touched on the issue.

"The Deputy Minister was here two weeks ago, and he looked me in the eye and he said this is going to happen. It's an opportunity to triage patients at the front end, so, instead of sending a lot of patients into urgent care, we're going to send them to an actual medical clinic," Mayor Brown said in early June.

Mayor Brown added that a third of Airdrie's population does not have a family doctor.

"This new process - they're going to build differently. It's a completely new concept that the government is very supportive of. Business plans are in place; we've been working directly with Alberta Health and we're hoping to get some news before the end of summer if this is going to be funded."

Timeline of events leading up to public engagement sessions

Earlier this spring, the province said it would be providing $85,000 to One Health Airdrie through a grant to co-develop a detailed business plan for an integrated primary care and urgent care facility in the area.

Previously, Alberta Health officials said that future public engagement on the proposal was being planned and the business plan is expected to be complete later in the spring.

"The Alberta government is also exploring a proposal by One Health Airdrie for an additional and separate facility to support health needs in Airdrie... When exploring potential capital projects, Alberta Health assesses the ability of current facilities to accommodate future demands for health services across the province," officials said in April.

In late March, during a session in Alberta's Legislature, there was an exchange between MLA for Airdrie-East, Angela Pitt and Health Minister Adriana LaGrange. MLA Pitt had queried the health minister on updates regarding the renovations to the Airdrie Community Health Centre.

"Given that these necessary renovations to our urgent care centre have started back up and given that this centre will need further investment and expansion to meet population growth pressures, can the Minister of Health please update my constituents on the proposal being put forward by One Health and Qualico Communities to meet the needs of my constituents?" MLA Pitt also asked during the March 28 session.

Minister LaGrange stated that Alberta Health has approved a grant agreement with One Health Associate Medical Airdrie Incorporated to develop their business case of a co-located primary and urgent care services model in Airdrie.

"One Health will work with contracted resource providers provided by the province to support any necessary community engagement, writing, and development of the business plan. A request for proposal to support this work is ongoing, and it is anticipated the contract will be awarded in April of this year."

The Health Minister also stated that the government is acutely aware of the challenges Airdrie residents face when it comes to strained healthcare services in the city.

"We want to ensure that every Albertan can access the care where and when they need it. AHS recently submitted a major capital needs assessment for health capital projects to Alberta Health, which outlines the Airdrie community health centre redevelopment. I look forward to seeing this move forward."

Delay in renovations

In late January Sartconference learned that previously planned renovations to the city's community health centre had been temporarily delayed. Initially, Michelle Bates, Executive Director of the Airdrie Health Foundation had written that the foundation was notified in January of the delay and the foundation was told that the new proposal would be a privately delivered, publicly funded model.

In previous statements to Sartconference Alberta Health confirmed that the delays to the community health centre were to, 'ensure Albertans receive value for money spent.'

"Once the proposal by One Health is better defined and more information is received, the Alberta government will be able to determine if the project should move forward as planned or if changes to its scope and funding are recommended or required," Alberta Health said.

However, one month later, at the end of February, MLA Pitt confirmed that the renovations would resume. She underlined that she had always supported the renovations. Previously, when asked what her thoughts were on the renovations being paused, MLA Pitt said that it came down to looking at whether other options were a better use of taxpayer funds.

"At the end of the day, Airdrie needs a renovation; we need a new urgent care facility, and we need a hospital," she said.

Criticism of initial delays

The news of the delays sparked vehement criticism from Friends of Medicare, a non-profit, non-partisan coalition which advocates universal public healthcare. Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of the group was critical of not only the delay of renovations but also what he said was the lack of transparency surrounding the new health proposal.

"It doesn't ring very accountable to us, [and] it seems a bit sketchy; behind the scenes [and] behind closed doors," Gallaway previously said.

According to the July 2 press release, 'One Health has been working closely with Alberta Health and your input will be shared with Alberta Health.'

"One Health Associate Medical has had a 33-year history of providing comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to those who live in Airdrie and the area. Through innovation, leadership and shared values, it has helped shape health practices in the community and has advanced medical training through its relationship with the University of Calgary."

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