Editor, South Peace News
Some research of the numbers regarding the High Prairie and area’s need for renal dialysis service certainly suggested we are getting – well – screwed.
Let’s follow some history of this issue. Here is a letter written nearly 10 years ago:
“The Northern Alberta Renal Program is not able to commit to the operation of a satellite renal dialysis unit in High Prairie within any defined time frame. NARP does support making provision for a possible future renal service at the High Prairie facility, but has clearly indicated that such a unit could not be operational until sufficient demand exits in the area for this type of service.”
– Dave Hancock, Alberta Minster of Health, Nov. 29, 2007.
In short, we have to prove the demand exists. Fair enough. Well then, consider this. Alberta Health Services issued their own information called Alberta Health Primary Health Care – Community Profiles in March 2015.
Here is what the charts reported for High Prairie and Slave Lake areas. The information is alarming!
Health Issue Rankings
Health Issue SL HP
Hypertension 25 2
Diabetes 30 2
Ischemic Heart Disease 21 15
CO Pulmonary Disease 1 3
NOTE: 132 Local Geographical Areas Included in the report. HP was second highest!
High Prairie, unfortunately, ranks far worse than Slave Lake in three of the four categories, including diabetes.
Now we need to consider just how bad we rate:
Diabetic Rate [Per 100 People]
High Prairie 9.3 69.10% Above AB Average
Slave Lake 6.6 20.00% Above AB Average
AB Average 5.5
Just to be clear, which area is serving more patients?
HP, SL Service Area Populations
High Prairie 12,678
Slave Lake 12,031
Yet, High Prairie has not warranted any consideration for renal dialysis treatment, as promised by NARP in Hancock’s 2007 letter. Why these numbers are apparently not good enough for NARP to consider High Prairie for renal dialysis treatment is mind-boggling! Do they not read their own reports? Do they have no clue what they are doing?
Instead, what did NARP do?
On Feb. 1, 2016, NARP and Alberta Health Services announced increased service – for Slave Lake – despite the information at their disposal that High Prairie’s need was higher! Much higher!
Tell me the political lobby in Slave Lake was not more effective than High Prairie’s. Where was the Lesser Slave Lake Health Advisory Council, which is supposed to be working for us for health needs of the region? The numbers prove undoubtedly High Prairie’s need is higher. Yet the council, which serves both High Prairie and Slave Lake…well, we all know what happened.
Yet, nary a concern was voiced publicly from this group, including our local High Prairie representatives.
Here is some information included in a story published in the March 30, 2016 South Peace News.
Renal dialysis treatment has increased in Slave Lake while High Prairie continues to be left high and dry.
AHS provided the increased service in Slave Lake Feb. 1 with little fanfare while the best efforts of High Prairie and area lobby groups and politicians to get the same service go unheard.
Slave Lake can now provide service for up to 18 patients a week from 12, a 50 per cent increase. Some patients are from High Prairie and area.
The move to increase service in Slave Lake while leaving High Prairie without service is difficult to understand. For well over a decade, High Prairie and area politicians have pointed out to the Alberta government that the need is critical. High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox referred to AHS’s report.
“Many of our residents are accessing the Slave Lake Healthcare Centre, which is still a minimum 2 1/2 hour trip, typically three days a week,” she says.
Still, the call has fallen on deaf government ears.
Cox says space has been provided in the new hospital for dialysis.
“As was brought forward to our MLA, Danielle Larivee, our new hospital has the shell space available and only requires the equipment for kidney dialysis.”
Yet, it was NARP who increased the service in Slave Lake and ignored High Prairie, reads the North Zone newsletter issued by Alberta Health Services. The newsletter also quoted Glenda O’Neil, patient care manager with NARP, who said her organization was committed to getting patients closer to home for dialysis treatment.
Although the need exists in High Prairie, there seems to be no movement on the issue in High Prairie despite O’Neil’s claim.
Meanwhile, the patient quoted in the news release needing the service was from Joussard, which is in High Prairie’s area, not Slave Lake. Yet, NARP chose Slave Lake over High Prairie for increased service.
How did this happen?
Well, perhaps it has something to do with the health advisory council, which did not mention High Prairie’s need for renal dialysis services in their 2015-16 annual report. But they did mention Wabasca!
Why our local health council does not hammer these numbers at AHS and NARP, you would have to ask chair Ken Matthews, from High Prairie.
In the meantime, we will have to rely on others such as the town and county councils, First Nations and Metis Settlements, and the citizens themselves, to continue the lobby. We got screwed!