The Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Committee has been making strides to establishing an Advanced Ambulatory Care Service [AACS] in Sylvan Lake, which would serve numerous communities in the area, which include Eckville, the surrounding counties and summer villages.
At Meadowlands Golf Club in Sylvan Lake, the committee held a meet and greet, at which they provided updates and answered questions about the AACS.
Sylvan Lake Doctor Brad Bahler answered numerous guest questions and responded to comments, including one topic brought up by Town of Eckville Mayor Helen Posti.
Posti asked Bahler to elaborate on one of the situations that created a need for advanced ambulatory services, after doctors in the area had been found to be working in unsafe conditions, working after hours.
“[Those dangerous conditions] became a real issue – we need to thank you for the years of service you have done for that,” said Posti, asking Bahler to elaborate on that particular situation.
“For many years, we have had 24-hour day, 365-day a year after hour service. You basically called and we would see you in the clinic, and provide service for a lot of stuff,” said Bahler. “The problem was that for a lot of stuff, if we saw you and you needed testing or something we couldn’t provide, we ended up having to send you to Red Deer.”
Bahler said that as the size of communities in the area grew, the volume of work at the clinic also substantially grew, with the after-hours work being done by unsupported doctors.
“For example, if I was in an exam room, in the middle of sewing up somebody with a complex laceration, and my phone was running…there were times when people with urgent needs were not getting to talk to anybody.”
With an increase in tourist populations in the summer, and influx of many more patients, Bahler said some of the doctors were put in unsafe, sometimes even fearful circumstances dealing with patients after-hours. That resulted in patients being under-served, or not having their needs responded to quickly enough.
“Finally, we got to a point where we said it was no longer safe,” said Bahler. “You can still talk to doctors after-hours, though.”
The establishment of an AACS to serve the region in Sylvan Lake would provide an opportunity for care to help solve the predicament Posti and Bahler described.
The meet and greet entailed an update on the progress made towards the costs associated with equipping the AACS with the necessary medical equipment. The committee has been able to raise $200,000 so far, held in trust, and plans to raise $50,000 this year through several initiatives in the coming months. The anticipated cost of the AACS will be $350,000.
The AACS is anticipated to be able to serve the needs of approximately 22,000 residents and 800,000 yearly visors to the region.