Every marathon begins with a single step

Efforts to have renal dialysis service in High Prairie began decades ago. Nov. 20, the announcement from the Alberta government during Question Period all but guarantees the service will be provided at the High Prairie Health Complex probably sometime next year.

There were three major hurdles that had to be overcome. None were an easy battle.

Lobbying for the service actually began decades ago. It was apparent the service was not going to be provided in the old hospital so efforts began to target the new hospital. Lobbying began to ensure that space in the new hospital would be provided for this and other services.

First major hurdle, June 13, 2007: High Prairie Community Health Council members were angry after hearing space for the cancer, dialysis clinics in the new High Prairie Hospital were not included. South Peace News published a leaked letter from an unnamed source from Dave Hancock, Minister, Alberta Health and Wellness, in its June 20 edition. The public is made aware of the problem and the decision later reversed, after High Prairie town council and the M.D. of Big Lakes became more actively involved.

Incredible! That was 12 years ago! Twelve more years of lobbying, scratching and clawing, begging, pleading, and whining.

Second major hurdle: on Feb. 6 of this year, Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced in High Prairie that capital funding was set aside for the service. Later, we learned the money set aside was $5.2 million – a figure later confirmed by the now United Conservative Party government.

However, rightly pointed out was no money was set aside to operate the service. It was sort of like buying a car but having any gas to drive it.

Still, it was another major step.

Third major hurdle: the announcement Nov. 20 made by Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro after being questioned by Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn on the desperate need for the service.

It was words we waited so long to hear.

“… to move forward with construction of a dialysis unit in High Prairie,” said Shandro.

It was a long time coming but we appear to be near the finish line on this marathon. Credit goes to so many people who had a part in this long process they are too numerous to mention.

Various parties have told me they were informed of the decision earlier but sworn to secrecy. That’s OK, the government likes to make a splash politically and it is in fact their announcement to make.

An excited Rehn all but made the announcement before Question Period with a phone call to South Peace News in the early afternoon. He said he would question Shandro on the matter. Normally, hard questions are not asked by members of a sitting government unless good news is ready to break.

And good news it was!

Congratulations to so many who never gave up the good fight.

This brutal marathon is coming to an end.

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