Richard Froese
South Peace News

A longtime High Prairie healthcare proponent is urging town council to lobby government to bring chemotherapy to the local region.

George Keay spoke to Town of High Prairie council at its regular meeting Aug. 10 in response to news that a group in Slave Lake is pushing to get chemotherapy in that community 115 km east of High Prairie.

“We have to start a lobbying group,” says Keay, who was a key leader to persuade the government to build the new High Prairie Health Complex that opened in April 2017.

He suggests a local group be created to make a presentation to Alberta Health Services and the government.

“If we make a good-enough proposal, it would be difficult to turn it down,” Keay says.

Councillor Arlen Quartly agrees about a plan to go to the healthcare authorities.

“As council, it is our job to lobby for the community,” Quartly says.

However, council made no decision.

Mayor Brian Panasiuk agrees.

“To keep pushing, you have to keep on or it doesn’t happen,” Panasiuk says.

“It’s a good concept and the space is there.”

Keay says work can be done to move forward.

“I would like to see us do a cost analysis of bringing in chemotherapy to High Prairie rather than Slave Lake,”

He says space of about 500 square feet was built into the new hospital to accommodate chemotherapy.

“It’s a workable project,” says Keay, who chairs the High Prairie and District Health Foundation.

He told council he has travelled to Grande Prairie and Edmonton for chemotherapy and the drive is not much fun.

“That’s why I fought so hard to put in that space at the hospital,” Keay says.

Quartly says chemotherapy should have been available when the hospital opened.

“It should have been there right from the start, like dialysis and obstetrics,” Quartly says.

Construction continues to progress on a new dialysis clinic scheduled to open in 2022.

Councillor Michael Long says he is in contact with some of contractors on site and offered to talk to them about the project for chemotherapy.

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