Cochrane area residents will be able to learn more about the newly-formed Cochrane and Area Health Foundation (CAHF) at this weekend's Cochrane Chamber Trade Show in the SLS Centre.
Last night, the foundation had its launch, and its officials spoke about the next steps. Trustees and supporters were also introduced,
The CAHF is striving to be a not-for-profit charitable foundation created to improve the quality, provision, and access to healthcare for the people of Cochrane and the surrounding area.
CAHF is committed to working with the public, AHS, and community partners to promote, evaluate, fundraise, educate, and advocate for the improvement of healthcare and urgent care services.
Chair Brian Winter used a baseball analogy to describe the progress they've made in a matter of just six months. He says they're now on first base after receiving ministerial approval for the foundation last week.
"Now we're going to round second base, which means we need to work with CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) to get our charitable number."
He says they have recruited the assistance of MP Blake Richards to get that status once the paperwork is ready to go.
Landing on third will mean fundraising can begin.
As with baseball, the big one is getting home. For the foundation, that means getting a 24/7 urgent care centre for Cochrane. Currently, it operates 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
He rattled off current stats on the use of the urgent care centre. It's utilized by an average of 80 people per day, ranging from 60 to 120 people per day. He says 58 per cent of the people are from Cochrane, 38 per cent from Calgary, and the other four per cent are from elsewhere.
"One of the things they haven't told us is how many people go to urgent care after hours, find it closed, and have to go elsewhere to get help."
Airdrie Health Foundation executive director Michelle Bates has rounded those bases and knows what it takes.
She helped to inspire the creation of the local foundation by walking interested people through the steps at an Oct. 18, 2022 information meeting.
Present at last night's launch, she offered these words of advice.
"You know, it's a long road," she says."Health care is not easy, it should be, but it's not, so you just have to keep up with it. If you give up, then it stops, so you've got to be in it for the long haul, be passionate about it, and it'll pay off."
The Airdrie foundation started as a grassroots organization in January 2010 to advocate for better health care in their rapidly growing city. They continue to do so and one of their crown achievements along the way was succeeding in getting a 24/7 urgent care centre.
She says it's been rewarding to know you can save and change lives and that you just never know what need will come along.
"They're doing what we're doing, and there's nothing better. It's just so great."
CAHF co-chair Dennis Fundytus praises the hard work of Brian Winter in the endless hours he has committed to making the foundation reality. He says many determined people helped to push it along.
"It was a really strong group of individuals, adapting to the philosophy, buying into it, and working well together, reaching out to the community, reaching out to the political entities that are important to push this project forward, and working well with AHS representatives."
"The trustees are part of the foundation that everybody is aware of, but the group behind the scenes that helped us develop our mission, our vision, and our values. All of the group was very instrumental in pushing this project forward."
Rocky View County Reeve Crystal Kissel, who was present, said the idea of creating a health foundation for the area was something her council could get behind and help where possible.
"This is a huge task, we know that, but we also know that our residents, along with the residents of Cochrane, need to support this, as I think this will benefit everyone in the future."
They also received letters of support from the Town of Cochrane and local MLA Peter Guthrie.
The foundation launched its website last week, which includes an important public survey. They are seeking input from area residents to help better understand the healthcare needs of Cochrane & Area.
You can access the website here.
Members of the board of trustees are:
- Chair: Brian Winter
- Vice Chair: Dennis Fundytus
- Secretary: Stephanie Meakin
- Treasurer: Stephanie Arnal
- Fundraising: Phyllis Konrad
- Communications: Reid Kimmett
- Business Community: Chuck Collins
- Area Representative: Robert Cameron