CHESTERMERE – The project to get a health center built in the community is still underway, and members of the Chestermere Health Committee are saying that they will be able to announce the beginning of construction on the facility in the near future.
The committee members have been working in cooperation with the Primary Care Network (PCN) to coordinate access to a wide range of health services in the new facility, which will be built in the new Kinniburgh development.
“Primary care is the first point of contact a person has with the health system – the point where people receive care for most of their everyday health needs,” said committee chair and registered nurse Karen Wourms. “This care is typically provided by family physicians, nurses, LPNs, dieticians, mental health professionals and pharmacists.
“Primary care includes the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of various health conditions. It also includes referrals to specialists and diagnostic services such as lab tests and x-rays.”
Wourms said that the Chestermere project has been granted several thousands of PCN dollars to enhance health services in the community.
“The funding has already added Automated External Defibrillators, baby scales, enhanced social work programming and early childhood screening to Chestermere,” she said. “There has also been funding given to hire Licensed Practical Nurses to work within the existing family physician offices to do work in chronic disease management (CDM).”
Wourms said that CDM focuses on patients with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and arthritis.
“The goal is to effectively manage these ailments and keep the symptoms from causing organ damage and progressing to a level of crisis,” she said. “I work in the ER at the Peter Lougheed and often see people coming in in crisis, with blood pressures and blood sugar levels so out of control that their lives are at risk.
“I often wonder if people had more healthcare education, support and access, if these visits might have been prevented.”
Wourms said that prevention of illness and promotion of health is key, and that she believes that having more community-based services will save the community some healthcare dollars in the long run by preventing so many ER visits and hospital admissions.
Wourms explained that Chestermere is lucky to be paired with the Primary Care Network, which she said is a team approach on promotion of health and prevention of disease.
“In a PCN, a team of health professionals led by family doctors delivers and co-ordinates health services, resulting in better collaboration, more timely referrals and more comprehensive care,” she said. “Determining which professionals should be on a clinic’s team begins with an analysis of needs of all the people in the community.”
Wourms said that when the health center is established, that everyone will be able to benefit from access to local Public Health Services, especially seniors.
“They would benefit from enhanced home care support, allowing more of our residents to “age-in-place,” she said. “We are also very much in need of our own laboratory and diagnostic services.”
Monthly meetings, led by the Primary Care Network, are held in Chestermere. Wourms said that representatives from Alberta Health Services, local physicians, Community Services representatives and health committee members all meet to work on building a strong health care system that will be tailored to meet the needs of all Chestermere residents.
“Our committee has the vision of creating a medical home for Chestermere and providing patients with a group of staff with whom a trusting, long-term relationship can develop,” she said. ” It would prevent physicians from having to refer people all over the place, like sending people to the hospital to get an x-ray, another location to meet a dietician, a busy laboratory in the city for blood work, or another location for an injection.
“A Primary Care Network increases patient convenience and patient compliance, resulting in better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction with care.”
Wourms said that a Primary Care Network may also benefit Chestermere with recruitment and retention of health care professionals.
“In a team approach to health care, the family physicians are well supported by allied health professionals, leading to higher job satisfaction and permanence in Chestermere,” she said. “Having more local physicians will improve the services available locally, create more jobs for health care workers, and bring more PCN dollars back to Chestermere.
“For every visit in Chestermere with a PCN affiliated physician, approximately $50 in funding comes back to Chestermere for additional services and programming such as smoking cessation classes, prenatal classes, healthy eating classes, and stress reduction classes. The possibilities are endless.”
Wourms said that the Rural PCN has donated funding to the local health committee to establish the Chestermere Community Health Foundation.
“Mayor Matthews and council are aware of the benefit that a PCN facility will give to Chestermere residents, and have shown their support by a matching financial contribution to the project,” she said. “The foundation will continue to work in the best interests of the community for services, continue to recruit and retain staff, and start fundraising to build-out and equip a PCN clinic.
“We have decided to fundraise in cooperation with the Calgary Health Trust as they have a great reputation, can issue charitable donation receipts on our behalf, and are set-up for on-line donations.”
For more information about the project, look for “Chestermere Community Health Center” on Facebook.
To become a part of the foundation or assist with fundraising for this project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an LPN interested in working in CDM in Chestermere, e-mail Joe at email@example.com or call 403-999-1587.