CALGARY – It’s been 6 years since Michelle Bates’ world changed forever.
“Our son, Lane, he was 5 years old, and he came down with a cold,” Bates said.
Although Lane had stayed home from school that week, Bates said he was starting to feel better. Still, she remembers wishing one night, she could have her son seen by a doctor.
“I stood outside his room and thought about my options. I could drive to Calgary, but the waiting rooms are over-capacity and there was nowhere in Airdrie – urgent care is now closed.”
Bates decided to let her son sleep before taking him to their family doctor the next morning. A few hours later, however, Lane woke up and his condition became serious.
“Very quickly our life changed. He passed away.”
Although nearly 60, 000 call Airdrie home, there is no medical care offered once the urgent care centre closes at 10 p.m. Residents can either drive 30 km south to the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, or 50 km north to the hospital in Didsbury.
“You’ve got to think about the logistics: ‘Okay, I’m going to be travelling down the highway. If the weather is bad maybe I need to wait until tomorrow,”” said Airdrie Dr. Julian Kyne. “With the size of the population now, there are needs during the night.”
As members of the Airdrie Health Foundation, both Kyne and Bates have been working to bring a 24-hour ER to Airdrie. The $35-million proposal is a major project, but it’s recently gained a major ally: The province has agreed to come on board as a partner.
“You’ve got to give tremendous credit to the Airdrie community for coming up with these ideas,” said Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel. “What’s really great about this is that it’s a partnership where the province is going to invest with the community in a community-based project.”
The province set aside money for the Airdrie ER in last month’s budget, but it hasn’t yet specified how much money will be contributed.