Community Futures hosted a public forum at the Civic Centre on Monday November 30, to introduce a project they have been working on, and share their vision with the community on the possibility of bringing post secondary education in Drumheller.
Community Futures explained this project was at the early stages and the purpose of this public meeting was to get feedback from the community to check what the focus should be.
“The vision is post secondary education in Drumheller with specialized medical services delivery” explained Jordan Webber, Project Lead for Community Futures.
Webber said that following regional studies, using measurements such as earning potentials and quality of life, health came out on top. As the former hospital was recently sold to new owners and became available for a project within the community, teamed with opportunities in the health sector, Community Futures saw the possibility to provide health training and medical delivery in Drumheller. Webber went on to explain that the bottleneck in rural health being practicum placements, merging the medical delivery with the health training would provide the practicum placements that a project like this needs to have a critical mass of students to make the project sustainable.
Community Futures is sourcing funds to complete a business plan and currently looking at engaging a 2 year LPN program and later maybe expanding this to EMTs, RANs, lab technicians etc.
Currently the healthcare system is very good at acute care, however Alberta Health doesn’t cover some other sectors such as chronic and diagnostic needs. Under this model those specialized services could be brought to the area.
“This is also the opportunity to draw specialists to Drumheller to provide services we don’t currently have”, Webber stressed, “research on this project still needs to be done to ensure the right fit and what would work here.”
Webber then explained they truly believe the impact of post secondary education would put a positive economic spin to the town and make the future of Drumheller and the region more sustainable.
The organizers explained this can only happen with the support from the community and Community Futures wants to engage with the community to make the project a successful one.
“This has to be a community driven project...We are here to plan the project and get it up and running but the community will be running it internally”, highlighted Ken Edwards, from the Poet Group, a company which specializes in strategic risk analysis and hired to come up with a sustainable model for this project.
They are primarily looking at drawing students from the local area but can also look at broader areas.
“A lot of coordination has to come together and we have met with the local doctors, the hospital, specialists, the Drumheller institution, and a lot of different stakeholders,” confirmed the organizers. “We need to hear from the community what they would like to see here, we already know the hospital system here would be interested to have practicums.”
Following the opener, the public was then asked for their questions and feedback.
Q. What can we do? A: Think about what focus this should have, what do you see happening in your town?
Q. Have they looked at alternative medicine? A: Not yet, we are trying to stay mainstream to create a solid program.
Q. What about approaching other schools? A: The bigger colleges such as Red Deer may not have it in their scope to have the resources to promote Drumheller or to draw students to Drumheller in a way to make an educational facility here successful in the long run
Q. Where is resistance expected? A: From the community if they feel this is forced upon them so we want to make sure that this is a business model and as much as this will be part of the community, it shouldn’t be a welfare model.
Q. So what is the next step?
A: Developing a business plan, which is expected to happen in the next 4 to 5 months.
Community Futures also needs to engage one or two people from the public to be part of the committee.
There will also be public meetings every 6 weeks to show progress and get feedback.
For further information about this project, please contact Jordan Webber of Community Futures on 403.823.7703.