People in High Prairie will soon have access to more healthcare services closer to home. On Wednesday morning, the Alberta Government announced it would be adding an obstetrics program and a permanent dialysis clinic to the High Prairie Health Complex. Alberta Health Services Chief Zone Officer for the North Zone Greg Cummings says he’s excited about the announcement.

“We are very pleased when we have the opportunity to enhance the services and the care that we can provide to the community and to the surrounding community. The announcements yesterday are quite exciting for the people who work for Alberta Health Services and for the people from the community.”

The complex was built in May 2017 with the space to add a dialysis unit and an obstetrics program at a later date. Since January, the doctors and nurses from that program have been training and should be able to start seeing mothers with low-risk pregnancies in the next few weeks.

Before that, the complex was only able to offer emergency births and C-section. That meant most expectant mothers had to go to places like Peace River and Grande Prairie to deliver. When it comes to dialysis patients, they were having to travel to Slave Lake, Peace River or Edmonton for their treatments. Cummings says he heard from patients who were excited about not having to travel anymore.

“A couple of patients provided their personal stories of their journey both with dialysis and with delivering a baby. The stories were very passionate about how in a rural community it is such a blessing to have a facility close to where they live so that they can avoid having to travel and be away from their family and other supports.”

The government has invested $5.2 million to build the new dialysis unit. It is expected to be open to patients in 2020.