‘Productive’ meeting with health critic, says council

Town of McLennan Mayor Michele Fournier says a recent meeting with the NDP Health Critic went well.

Shepherd hears Town of McLennan’s concerns

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Alberta’s NDP Health Critic says McLennan is not the only community in Alberta facing rural health problems.

David Shepherd met with McLennan CAO Lorraine Willier, Mayor Michele Fournier and Councillor Terry Calliou May 21 to discuss concerns.

Shepherd, who issued a news release a few days later pointing out the plight of several other Alberta communities, says he will keep in touch with McLennan as concerns move forward.

Calliou, who suggested council meet with the NDP at council’s April 12 meeting, says Shepherd listened to five areas of concern. The meeting was requested after the temporary closure of the emergency department at the Sacred Heart Health Complex March 15.

Main issues included the chronic shortage of hospital staff and doctors, reasons why the local physician recruitment committee can’t be more involved in the process of recruiting doctors, and why Alberta Health Services decides where doctors take their services.

Fournier was pleased with the meeting.

“Our questions and concerns were all addressed,” she says.

“We were able to put at rest the rumours. Our hospital is not going to close, that’s a concern our residents are happy with I am sure.”

Calliou says Shepherd believes in the local health boards as opposed to regional boards because they know the issues locally.

Shepherd made no promises, says Calliou, except to bring the concerns of the Smoky River region and all of rural Alberta forward in the legislature.

“There are a lot of concerns all over the province,” Calliou says Shepherd told him.

“Everyone has to be heard, not just the bigger centres.”

Like Fournier, Calliou was pleased with the approximate 50-minute meeting.

“Overall, to me, I think it was quite productive.”

After the Sacred Heart temporary closure March 15, council was concerned.

“We want answers,” demanded Delaurier at council’s meeting April 12.

“This hospital is in our town,” she added. “We have the most to lose if this hospital closes.”

AHS did respond to concerns.

“There are no plans to reduce healthcare service in McLennan,” said Deb Guerette, director of Clinical Operations for AHS North Zone Area 6, when contacted after the meeting.

Fournier adds council will do everything it can to support the hospital.

“Moving forward we will support the hospital in any way we can to ensure health and safety for our region,” she says.

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