For South Peace News
“There’s a lot of concern about the opioid use which is on the increase,” says Susan Giesbrecht.
“We need an addictions detox centre in Slave Lake.”
It was one of the topics raised by the Lesser Slave Lake Health Advisory Council (HAC) at its meeting on Feb. 6.
The HAC has community volunteers and Alberta Health Services (AHS) representatives. Community members represent Slave Lake, Wabasca, High Prairie, and the surrounding counties, municipal districts and Métis settlements.
Giesbrecht is the outgoing chair of the HAC. Going forward, she will still be a Slave Lake representative. The new chair is Terry Rosser from High Prairie. The new vice-chair is Lorraine Muskwa from the Wabasca area.
At the meeting, Shane Popisil, from Slave Lake, brought up the search for unmarked graves at the former Indian residential school site in Grouard. The search is being done by Kapawe’no First Nation. An official announcement of what has been found is scheduled for April, says Giesbrecht.
The HAC requested that AHS provide Indigenous counsellors to support people at the official announcement, says Giesbrecht.
Another item mentioned at the meeting had to do with struggles to recruit health-care workers.
“We’re lacking RNs, doctors, specialists,” says Giesbrecht.
Giebrecht’s notes from the meeting has the following information about doctors: High Prairie has six family doctors and one being assessed by April. High Prairie will still be short one doctor once this is done, says Giesbrecht.
Slave Lake has eight family medicine doctors and one incoming. Of these, Giesbrecht believed there was also a doctor going on maternity leave.
Wabasca has three doctors. It is advertising for two more.
In 2022 across the AHS North Zone, which covers the top half of Alberta, AHS hired 37 family medicine doctors and eight specialists or family doctors with special skills.
Competition with American hospitals is making it difficult to recruit medical workers, says Giesbrecht.
The meeting wrapped up with a presentation about My Health Records, which is an online way for people to access their health records.
The local hospitals are also in the process of adding Connect Care, which community members can access their own health information on. Once the local hospitals are set up, the HAC is planning an information session for the community, says Giesbrecht.
The HAC meets quarterly.
The next HAC meeting is June 12 in Wabasca, then Sept. 25 in High Prairie.