INNISFAIL – There will be a grand celebration for Innisfailians this summer to honour their health-care providers.
Rebecca Aspden, clinic lead for Innisfail Medical Clinic and one of the organizers for the Sept. 2 free event at the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre, said the two-part event, officially called the Innisfail Health Care Providers Appreciation BBQ, will be one for families, children and professionals to give a heartfelt salute for the countless selfless efforts made by health care providers, notably through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aspden said the first part is for the community to honour all health care providers from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a barbecue in the parking lot. The grill is being donated by Bilton Welding & Manufacturing, while entertainment will be provided by Richard Popovich.
“It’s really been a community effort. It’s going to be amazing,” she said. “We are going to be inviting kids to do some chalk art the day before, decorating the parking lot with appreciation and bright colours.”
Aspden said a 10-foot-wide appreciation banner has been created for health-care workers that will be circulated throughout town for citizens to sign, including at grocery stores, the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion and the weekly Market On Main every Tuesday before Sept. 2. It will then be displayed at the event for health-care workers and citizens to see.
At 1:30 p.m. the celebration will move inside for an awards ceremony to honour Innisfail’s Community Partners in Action team, which included Ellen Helgason, community recreation therapist with Alberta Health Services; Jennifer Wood, former dementia friendly community coordinator with the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network and Wendy Evans, a geriatric assessment nurse with the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network, for their role in winning this year’s RhPAP Rhapsody Health-Care Heroes Award.
The award was earned for the successful creation and implementation of the ground breaking Dementia Friendly Community Initiative in Innisfail, a year-long project that officially ended earlier this year.
Dr. Norah Keating, a social gerontologist devoted to enhancing the quality of life of older adults, will be the keynote speaker.
“Two different events but they are related for sure,” said Aspden.
She said the award to the Community Partners in Action team included a $2,500 prize for them to donate to a community organization and another $2,500 to have a celebration.
Aspden said Helgason, Wood and Evans opted to donate the first $2,500 back into the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, which is now under the guidance of the town’s new Age-Friendly Community Committee. The trio opted to have the other $2,500 for a community celebration to honour health-care providers.
“The party could have looked any way they wanted it but they are the ones who chose to honour the other health-care professionals in town,” she said. Aspden said a motivating factor to honour all health-care professionals was due to the enormous sacrifices they made over the past 16 months dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They wanted to show their appreciation to everyone. And it hasn’t been a great political climate, the (recent) rollbacks and the pressure on the doctors, and now our doctors are under pressure because of retirements,” said Aspden.
“There has been a lot going on for health-care workers in general besides COVID, so that was the point in honouring them for their service though all of it.”