Grimshaw town representative attends NWP rural expansion announcement

“We want to know what’s happening with healthcare in the north and I think this announcement is going to help our region a lot in attracting and retaining doctors.”

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Rural Alberta communities often struggle with receiving prompt and local healthcare. A partnership between Northwestern Polytechnic and the University of Alberta will focus on training rural healthcare workers, and retaining them in rural areas.

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Grimshaw’s deputy mayor Stacey Messner represented the town when she attended the Alberta rural medical education expansion announcement.

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“It was really good to see this program come to fruition with the partners of Northwestern Polytechnic, the University of Alberta, and the communities, so it was really important to the town of Grimshaw to have a representative from our community go to that announcement.”

The first group of medical students in these regional and residence training centres located in Grande Prairie will take place in the fall of 2025.

“As part of a Government of Alberta funded strategy to better serve Northern Alberta communities, U of A medical students will have the opportunity to become diverse, competent, and compassionate physician leaders, right in the heart of the Peace Region, at our Rural Medical Education Program Training Centres (RMEPTCs),” read NWP’s website.

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The program is a collaboration between the health education centre within the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital and the School of Health on campus.

The centre is a 40,000 square foot space for “teaching, learning, research, and administration space.” To address the current healthcare demand, NWP has plans to create more medical education facilities on campus.

“We want to know what’s happening with healthcare in the north and I think this announcement is going to help our region a lot in attracting and retaining doctors,” said Messner.

Messner said one concern in Grimshaw, in regards to healthcare, is when physician positions will be filled. Residents want to be able to visit a clinic for regular needs, rather than go to emergency. “The community, or the residents, or most people in the region, are very comfortable having a family practitioner and going to the clinic for their regular healthcare and medical care needs.”

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The province is experiencing a transition, she added, and the program is opening doors for us to “think creatively about how we want to be innovative about other solutions that solve the needs related to health and medical care in rural areas.”

Messner is also board chair of the Grimshaw Regional Healthcare Attraction and Retention Committee (GRHARC).

This group is made up of elected officials from County of Northern Lights, Municipal District of Peace 135, Berwyn, Grimshaw, including a CAO from each area, a local doctor, a physician resource planner from AHS, two members at large, and a consultant from Rural Health Professionals Action Plan (RhPAP).

According to the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, Grimshaw has five doctors. Their population is 2,646 as of 2022.

The committee works towards “ facilitating community involvement in partnership with schools, physicians, local health related businesses, and AHS,” reads their website.

They offer a scholarship program for high school students, students in a qualifying program, and adults thinking about enrolling in a health related or medical program. Read more here.

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