For the Lakeside Leader
“I think we have the best facility in the province,” said High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox, at the opening of that town’s new $228 million health complex on May 12.
In her remarks, Cox recognized many who led the lobby over many years to convince the provincial government the new hospital was needed.
“Our provincial government responded with a facility that is the envy of communities throughout northern Alberta,” Cox said.
Years of fundraising also paid off, as the High Prairie and District Health Foundation presented a cheque for $500,000 to pay for the CT scanner now operating at the hospital.
Opened with initial services on April 6, the new complex was built for $228.3 million. It has 30 acute care beds, while the J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre accommodates 67 beds, 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… services like dialysis and labour and delivery, can be added,” Hoffman said. “We’re working hard with partners in this community to make that happen.”
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee also supports enhanced services.
“Our government recognizes the importance of investing in rural communities like High Prairie,” she said, “to help attract new residents and make them even greater places to live and raise families.”
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 reeve Ken Matthews of Big Lakes County.
Another partner is the Peavine Metis Settlement, which contributed land for the complex. Peavine chairman Iner Gauchier said, “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.”
The facility brings the majority of health services for High Prairie and area under one roof. These 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.