Partnerships, patience praised during opening of $228M facility
South Peace News
Partnerships and patience from the region were credited for the new High Prairie Health Complex as the community celebrated the grand opening May 12.
“I think we have the best health facility in the province,” Town of High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox said.
She recognized many who led the local lobby to convince the provincial government to build a new health complex including George Keay, Big Lakes County Reeve Ken Matthews, former High Prairie mayor Rick Dumont, Diana Oliver, Barry Sharkawi, physician Dr. Robin Laughlin and former Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pearl Calahasen.
“Our provincial government responded with a facility that is the envy of communities throughout northern Alberta,” Cox said.
“So I close with thanks to the dedicated citizens who worked on this project, to the MLAs past and present who kept the project front and centre in their terms, health ministers past and present who recognized a need, and to the community groups who did extensive fundraising for the hospital.”
Years of fundraising paid off as the High Prairie and District Health Foundation presented a cheque for $500,000 to pay for the CT scanner now operating in the new hospital.
“Once again our community has shown its generosity, tenacity, and perseverance,” said Keay, who chairs the foundation.
Opened with initial services on April 6, the new complex was built for $228.3 million. It has 30 acute care beds while J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre accommodates 67 continuing care beds, 30 more than the former site.
When Cox and several other speakers mentioned the need for dialysis service in the hospital, the crowd applauded to show community support in front of Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.
“This facility is designed so that additional health services, like dialysis and labour and delivery, can be added,” said Hoffman, who lived many of her childhood years in Kinuso.
“We’re working hard with partners in this community to make that happen.”
Hoffman also thanked Keay, Oliver, and Sharkawi for their leadership.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee also supports enhancing services.
“Our government recognizes the importance of investing in rural communities like High Prairie to help attract new residents and make them even greater places to live and raise families,” she said.
Other local government officials recognized the regional partnership with the provincial government.
“These new facilities are an example of what can happen if people work together,” said Big Lakes County Reeve Ken Matthews.
“Your continued efforts to forge partnerships with the province and Alberta Health Services over the years have resulted in what you see here today.”
Another major partner is the project is the Indigenous communities. The Peavine Metis Settlement contributed land for the new health complex.
“This facility will be instrumental in the delivery of quality health care services to the residents of the area, including the three Metis settlements and First Nations communities,” said Peavine chairman Iner Gauchier.
Other local Indigenous leaders shared their appreciation to all the partners and leaders in the project.
“It takes a lot of collaboration,” said Metis Settlements General Council president Gerald Cunningham, of East Prairie Metis Settle- ment.
“The hospital benefits the whole region, and people won’t have to travel far.”
Thanks was also expressed from the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council.
“When we work together, we go a long way,” said Whitefish Lake First Nation Chief Robert Grey.
“Thanks to the people who worked hard for over 10 years, lobbied hard, worked hard, to talk about the need in High Prairie.”
Traditional dancing was presented by dancers and drummers from Driftpile First Nations.
Gifts of thanks were also presented from Sucker Creek First Nation, Metis Settlements General Council, Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council, and Aboriginal Health Services.
“We’re excited to provide care to the residents of High Prairie and surrounding areas, in this beautiful, state-of-the-art facility,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, in a news release.
“Bringing the majority of health services under one roof, including community health services and continuing care, will improve access of care to patients in the area.”
The facility brings the majority of health services for High Prairie and area residents under one roof. Services include outpatient, Indigenous health, addiction and mental health and home care.
The centre also offers diagnostic imaging, laboratory and inpatient pharmacy services. A full range of public health services will also be available when the community health and wellness clinic opens next month, including chronic disease management, early childhood development and health promotion.
“This beautiful, modern facility brings expanded health care services closer to home for residents of High Prairie and surrounding communities. It also provides nearly twice the number of continuing care beds in a more comfortable, accessible setting. I’m proud of our government’s investment in rural health care and glad to join this community celebration,” says Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman.
“This new facility doesn’t simply replace the former one but makes life better for patients and their families from the High Prairie area. It brings a range of expanded health care programs and services much closer to home. Our government recognizes the importance of investing in rural communities like High Prairie to help attract new residents and make them even greater places to live and raise families,” says Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee.
“The new High Prairie Health Complex will serve the residents of High Prairie and region, our First Nations and Metis Settlement partners, with high quality health and health-related services. This state-of-the-art facility was designed by the community and the province, so that more services can be added, obstetrics, low-risk surgery and dialysis. The High Prairie Health Complex will fulfill our communities’ needs for many years to come,” says Town of High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox.
“We now have a wonderful new hospital and continuing care facility. Thank you to health-care staff, volunteers and the community for the work involved in planning this tremendous project. This is a hospital the community can be proud of and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners with Alberta Health Services and the government to bring additional new services to the community,” says Big Lakes County Reeve Ken Matthews.
“Once again, our community has shown its generosity, tenacity, and perseverance. A big thank you to the directors of the health foundation for pushing the idea to completion and to the community for their generosity and support. I would also like to express a big thank you to the Alberta government. This project goes to show with dedication and perseverance, nothing is impossible,” says High Prairie and District Health Foundation chair George Keay.
“Members of the Peavine Metis Settlement have always taken pride in being contributors to the High Prairie and surrounding area. The donation of land to support the building of this exceptional new facility was a way of continuing this tradition. The partnerships that were developed with the Government of Alberta leading the way are extremely significant. This facility will be instrumental in the delivery of quality health care services to the residents of the area, including the three Metis Settlements and First Nations communities,” says Peavine Metis Settlement chair Iner Gauchier.