Clegg’s Corner – The region has nothing to lose

by Chris Clegg
Regular readers of this column know I began lobbying weeks ago to Alberta Health Services to provide renal dialysis services in the hospital.

We have watched helplessly while numerous residents leave the community to receive treatment in Peace River, Grande Prairie, Slave Lake or Edmonton. This, despite the fact our area has been recognized as having the second highest need in the province.

And, of course, we watched Slave Lake receive increased service while they used our residents as the reason to justify the need. Pathetic!

Of course, our local politicians didn’t want to make any waves at the risk of offending the big, bad government in Edmonton. It hasn’t even made the agenda at recent meetings.

Meanwhile, the Lesser Slave Lake Health Advisory Council has been no help, despite having a local person, Ken Matthews, chair the committee. They did issue a news release bragging about “…an expansion of obstetrical services in Slave Lake.” High Prairie has received no help from them other than offering an anchor to a drowning man.

So I called upon the region to start a grassroots organization to lobby for the service.

“We cannot put our trust in a group that constantly pours extra services into a hospital 110 km away while we get sweet-tweet,” I wrote.

Than I learned such a group was formed to help the lobby. The Diabetes Management Advocacy Group of High Prairie put out a call for help. Its focus is to get renal dialysis treatment at the local hospital.

This non-political advocacy group is comprised of members in the local geographic area of High Prairie, Big Lakes County and surrounding First Nations and Metis Communities. It’s chaired by Lorraine Muskwa and co-chaired by Tanis Willier.

Thank goodness we have them! They don’t have to worry about offending big wig politicians or kissing butt to the decision makers in Edmonton.

“The rate of diabetes in the region of High Prairie is the second highest in the province; however, we have been repeatedly overlooked,” they wrote in a recent letter to the editor.

With the help of this group, people are coming forward to share their stories about how the lack of treatment locally is affecting their families. Next week South Peace News begins publishing their stories. You will read how some people have chosen to die, the financial hardships on families, and the pain and suffering endured. We will put forward faces and names to the government on what effect this has had on us.

The people and families who have suffered through these ordeals are coming forward to spare future families from the hardships, despite the fact it is too late for them.

I, South Peace News, and those families, will be asking the public to get behind this lobby.

In their letter, Muskwa and Willier write “no one person alone can get dialysis services functional in our new hospital. It will take all of us, working together.”

Well said! The time has come for everyone to get involved and support this worthwhile endeavour. We will be telling you which MLAs to write and express your concerns. It’s time to bypass the Lesser Slave Lake Health Advisory
Council and deal with the people who make the decisions, at least until the council decides to support our cause.

I am not naïve enough to suggest this lobby will be successful, but it sure can’t be any worse than what’s occurred so far.

Simply put, it’s high time the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services decision makers heard from the people who matter most – the people of High Prairie and area. After all, no one else seems to want to speak for us.

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