An Open Letter to the Ratepayers of Lac Ste. Anne County

Several weeks ago, Lac Ste. Anne County communicated its intentions to facilitate the expansion of Onoway Regional Medical Clinic (ORMC). Since then, questions have arisen in the community regarding the feasibility of certain parts of this plan.

The intent of this letter is not to address each question that has been raised, but to underscore the County’s key reasons why this is a good news story for the entire Lac Ste. Anne region. Onoway Regional Medical Clinic is poised to grow, and the County is in a position to help facilitate smart, sustainable growth. In doing so, the County will ensure that Onoway Regional Medical Clinic will continue to meet the needs of residents in increasingly diverse and meaningful ways.

While some parts of the County’s proposed growth strategy may require further debate or clarification, two facts are indisputable: The Clinic is a boon to every resident in the Lac Ste. Anne region, and the clinic needs a new home where it can grow properly.

This is a story about a small regional clinic’s success despite an uncertain economic climate and a tenuous past. Let’s see it as such, and let’s write its next chapter together.

The plan is to move forward, not backward.

Twelve years ago, the private Onoway medical practice was shuttered with no succession plan in place. The clinic remained closed for a year, during which time residents had to travel elsewhere for medical consultations, prescriptions and necessary procedures. For those who needed the facility the most, this closure represented a great deal of personal hardship, expense and, in some cases, health risk. This is not an outcome that the County wishes to revisit.

Considering the best interests of the community, Lac Ste. Anne County collaborated with its municipal neighbours to reopen the clinic. This group shared in the pain of funding a subsidy for the clinic, under the premise that the facility would one day become financially viable. That day has come.

Now two years into its unsubsidized trial, ORMC is operating at a small profit. During this time, the clinic has exceeded revenue projections, and its profits have been reinvested back into operations.

ORMC is a necessity, not a nice-to-have. The County has done what was required, and will continue to do so, to ensure that the clinic has a proper home with proficient staff and adequate resources. There exist a number of potential outcomes for ORMC. The worst possible outcome would be to stymie its momentum and regress to the point where there is no regional medical facility, or where the facility is unable to attract the talent it requires to continue to meet the needs of its clients.

The County has a sensible plan.

The County is actively pursuing strategies to ensure the long-term viability of ORMC, and its evolution into a provider of services that will benefit all who live in the region – both today and for generations to come. These strategies include building a new facility; attracting another physician; introducing new equipment and specialized services; and further entrenching the facility’s viability through administrative and management support.

The reality is that within the span of several years, the County and its regional partners have turned ORMC into a viable venture. In its simplest sense, the County is simply helping the clinic manage existing AHC fee schedules on behalf of the clinic; arguably a low-risk proposition.

It is safe to say that Doctors don’t want to be in the business of development, facility administration or money management. Doctors want to do what they do best: help people. By providing contingent support with existing manpower, County administrators will further help the clinic prosper.

As stated by Lac Ste. Anne Councillor Lorne Olsvik, “Does the County want to be in the health care business? Absolutely not. Is it in the region’s best interest that the County does what it can to reinforce the stability of the clinic and help guarantee its essential medical services to our communities? It certainly is. By facilitating this next chapter of ORMC, the County can end the revolving door of physicians and mitigate the instability of essential medical services to the region.”

Everything is being undertaken in stride with AHS.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is presently working with the County on meeting the clinic’s physician recruitment objective. The County will continue to work in concert with AHS as it executes its expansion plans for the clinic. The only services that ORMC are pursuing are services that will compliment what is already provided by AHS.

This is the start of something great.

ORMC is a genuine home-grown success story; its next chapter is an important one that everyone who lives in the Lac Ste. Anne region proper should be excited about, stand behind and help realize.

Let’s be proud of what we have achieved together, and let’s leverage the momentum of this vital community asset to create the next evolution of Onoway Regional Medical Clinic that meets the diverse and growing needs of the region better than ever before.

A public hearing will be held Wednesday, May 1 at 9:45 am at the County Administrative Office, where County representatives will discuss plans to establish a Municipally Controlled Corporation to operate the medical clinic and work to grow its scope of medical services. The County invites those who are interested in this important initiative to attend. Further news and public disclosures related to this matter may be reviewed on this website, as well as at www.LegacyMunicipal.ca.

 


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