Athabasca Advocate – October 31, 2017

Hannah Lawson

Health minister visits Athabasca; Alberta Health minister tours Athabasca Auxiliary Association’s nearly complete $7,157 family room project



Alberta Deputy Premier and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman visited Athabasca Oct. 26 to speak with local councils and tour the Athabasca Healthcare Centre.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is seeing in northern communities, outside of Edmonton and Calgary particularly, you have a real opportunity to see the commitment that community members have for their facilities,” Hoffman said in an interview.

Hoffman visited the Athabasca Healthcare Centre Auxiliary Association’s latest almost-complete project, a former smoke room transformed into a family room.

Heather Wallach, past auxiliary president, said the family room has been a “catch-all” room until the auxiliary decided to make it into a family room any folks with terminally ill family members checked in at the healthcare centre.

“AHS (Alberta Health Services) probably would not have funded that, and you know, you feel that these things are important,” she said. “If family is living away and have to spend time with a loved one there, and want to be at their side, kind of thing, that’s why we did that.”

Renovations to the family room included installing up-to-code furniture, including a love seat that pulls out for overnight visits, appliances, and the last step is blinds for privacy.

In total, the family room project will cost $7,157.

This year the Alberta Healthcare Auxiliaries Association celebrates 70 years of volunteer efforts to the Alberta Healthcare System. According to a 2016 auxiliary fact sheet, there are 1,110 volunteers across the province that have fundraised $1,441,375, and have contributed 158,442 recorded volunteer hours donated in work to healthcare facilities.

Hoffman said she was also glad to see the wall of remembrance of projects completed by the local auxiliary association, and seeing every person who has lived and passed on named on the centre’s walls.

“It’s great to see these kinds of projects, and the auxiliary definitely has a long list of accomplishments. It’s nice to be able to see some of them first hand.”

Hoffman added the Alberta Government recently invested in $1.5 million into the Athabasca Healthcare Centre for maintenance and upkeep.

“While it isn’t necessarily the sexy projects we cut ribbons for, getting two new hot water boilers and a new chiller, and doing work on the roof, making sure it’s a safe place for patients to be, families to visit and staff to work… that’s an important investment in local community, and the skilled tradespeople that do those installs as well,” Hoffman said.

Members of the media were not invited to Hoffman’s meeting with Athabasca County and Town of Athabasca councils.

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