By Greg Price
The Taber and District Health Foundation is about to celebrate a quarter century of strengthening rural health care early next month.
The foundation will be hosting its 25th annual ‘Share in the Experience of Giving’ Telethon on Friday, November 1, from 2-8 p.m. live at the Heritage Inn.
“Being it’s the 25th annual, that shows you it has been running for a long, long time,” said Vicki Koersen, fundraising co-ordinator for the Taber and District Health Foundation. “I’ve been interviewing some of the older board members that used to sit on the board when it first happened, like Ray Bryant, Peter Bergen to ask them for some of the reasons why the foundation started.”
Before Alberta Health Services came in, regions were zoned where the Taber area was the Chinook Regional Zone.
Any government funding that came in from the government for health care costs to hospitals/doctors, it was all funneled through Lethbridge.
“There came a point in the ‘80s when we got our new hospital here and people wanted money to stay here,” said Koersen.
“We waned to have funding that stayed and helped our own M.D. region, where people could specify where their funds were going to,” said Koersen.
Over the 25 years of the telethon, the foundation has helped raise over $6 million which has translated to the local hospital having continuous modern equipment.
“There isn’t one corner of that hospital that hasn’t benefited from the telethon,” said Koersen, adding this year’s funds raised at the telethon will go towards updating the maternity suites. “That area hasn’t been touched since the 80s. The lino is all cracked, wallpaper is coming off. It’s an OK environment, but it can be more bright, happy and welcoming.”
The telethon has allowed for Koersen to see exactly how generous the Taber/Vauxhall/M.D. of Taber can be in recognizing the need for quality health care in more remote rural areas.
“By keeping services here in Taber and investing in those services, it kept our hospital open because we are so close to Lethbridge,” said Koersen.
Koersen noted in helping aid health care costs, Mike Brand and Dr. Rob Wedel helped develop a best practices model with the Clinical ARP (Alternate Remuneration Program), negotiated by the doctors at the Taber Clinic at the time in the early 2000s.
In this model of health care, doctors are paid in an annual amount for each patient who chooses to doctor through the Taber Clinic.
“This allows for team-based care which gives the doctors flexibility to provide services in different ways so they can spend more time with each patient and deliver a full range of care that encourages health promotion, wellness and teamwork with other health providers,” said Koersen. “The goal is to provide the community with increased access to primary health care by supporting stronger and long lasting relationships with family doctors.”