MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Sundre Hospital Futures Committee (SHFC) officials Gerald Ingeveld and Heidi Overguard have updated county council on the organization’s recent and upcoming activities, including plans to conduct a needs assessment pending grant approval.
The review came during a delegation appearance before council at the recent regularly scheduled meeting, held in person and online.
Started in 2010, the committee works to recruit and retain physicians and other health-care professionals, fundraise for local needs and other activities.
The Town of Sundre and Mountain View County both provide annual funding to support the committee’s work.
Overguard said the committee recently launched a campaign to recruit five doctors for Sundre “to replace those who will soon be retiring or wishing to move on.”
Recruiting more physicians and other health-care professionals for Sundre is an ongoing need, she said.
“The best anecdote for recruitment is retention,” she said, “so a lot of energy that we spend is to encourage and remind health professionals that they are appreciated and to encourage an environment of teamwork and a bit of fun where people enjoy coming to work.”
A number of attraction initiatives have recently been undertaken, including working with the Rural Health Professions Action Plan, meeting with the medical director for the Central Zone to emphasize need, and hosting Grade 9-12 students during the High School Skills Day event.
Retention initiatives include ongoing training at the E-Sim Lab (education, simulate, innovate and motivate) in Sundre.
“Doctor, nurses and EMS staff are running simulations to build teamwork needed to provide the highest level of care for our community,” said Ingeveld.
The lab is providing invaluable training for rural health-care workers, firefighters and others, he said.
Along with Athabasca University, the committee is applying for a $200,000 grant to carry out a health needs assessment for the area, he said.
“This study will affect 3,000 Sundre residents and 8,000 Mountain View County residents,” he said. “It will identify our health-care needs and our potential to contribute to rural health in this region.
“It will provide learning modules for rural equation provincewide and perhaps beyond. It will also drive the infrastructure planning for a rural heath campus in our community.”
The last large-scale health needs assessment was conducted in the Sundre area more than 20 years ago, he said.
“Community health is so important to economic development,” said Overguard, noting the assessment would gather data on demographics and other things. “Having that data will be very powerful if and when there are any changes proposed to hospitals in the area.”
The Sundre hospital is being used by not only area residents, but is also attracting patients from Cochrane, Calgary and elsewhere, said Ingeveld said.
Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers commended committee members for their efforts.
“Thank you for your service and everything you do for our community,” Aalbers said. “It’s pretty incredible.”
Council accepted the committee’s report for information.