Almost a year after Alberta’s health minister confirmed plans for a new community health centre in Beaverlodge were moving forward, the project’s future is still unclear. It wasn’t included in Alberta Health Services’ 2017 capital priorities, and the Edmonton Journal recently reported the provincial government has scrapped plans to develop a template for building rural hospitals.
Press Secretary Brent Wittmeier says despite that, Beaverlodge is still one of the province’s “potential future major capital projects.”
“In order to best meet the needs and improve health outcomes in Beaverlodge, Alberta Health continues to look at demographics, current and projected health needs and nearby services. New design and planning tools have the potential to streamline decisions and discussions about what clinical and non-clinical health programs and services will be available in the future.”
In 2016, a joint task force put together an action plan for the future of health care services in Beaverlodge. It found that while residents are happy with health care services currently available, the hospital is old and doesn’t meet the needs of the growing community.
Health minister Sarah Hoffman’s February 2017 visit to Beaverlodge coincided with the announcement that land for the new health facility had been donated. Former nurse Doris McFarland and her family donated the property near the Esso on the way in from Grande Prairie.
While progress on the centre has stalled, Wittmeier says the more than $2.5 million in renovations to the Beaverlodge Hospital are still going ahead. They include replacing the roof, nurse call systems, fire alarms and security systems, along with addressing flood damage done in January 2013.