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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - March 11, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta 10 - THI UTHBMDOI HBRAID - Thursday, March 11, 1971 Uncertainty hangs over hospitals By JIM MAYBTJ8 j Herald Staff Writer TJncertdnty which hung over Lethbridge hospitals last year continues into this year but there are indications some of this uncertainty will be cleared up soon. Progress was made in some fields last year and indications of things to come are getting stronger. Take financing for example. Both Lethbridge Municipal Hospital and St. Michael's General Hospital bad to make supplementary requisitions on taxpayers to cover their deficits. At the same time the province knocked off its previous assessment of four mills on the equalized assessment for the hospital fund. But it appears this great concession by the province was part of the softening up for the big pocket - book punch expected this year and in the following years. The province isn't saying anything concrete yet, which can be used to break financing down to dollars and cents, but indications are the hospitals will receive a grant from the province, will be allowed to requisition taxpayers for up to four.mills and then if further funds are required, go to plebiscite. Through the cloud of uncertainty it appears local residents will have to absorb a fair percentage of payroll increases. Payroll accounts for about 85 per cent of hospital expenditures. There are indications of further schemes by the province to shift more burdens onto local taxpayers but these ore only speculative at this time. Hospital officials are estimating local taxpayers win be asked for more than four mills of taxation this year if the hospitals are to maintain service and facilities. On the general scene some exciting plans are being formulated. One would be the establishment this year of a hospitals and health commission. Establishment of regional service boards under the commission is faced with many problems but some pilot projects are slated for tins year. If it works the government would simply hand over so many dollars' a year to the commission for disbursing to the regional boards. Hospitals and various other services such as the preventive social services program would requisition the commission for funds. Once the commission's funds had been allocated additional funds required for operation of the various services would have to be requisitioned from the region. Complete details of the project have not been made public. In fact, it is not known if the government has even worked out all the details yet. It could take a few years before the program is instituted throughout the province if it is decided to go ahead with it. Many hospitals in Alberta, Canada and the U.S. are investigating methods of better utilization of the skills of their nursing staffs and better utilization of hospital beds and facilities. The Lethbridge Municipal Hospital embarked on a pilot project last year known as progressive patient ear* - nursing unit assignment. The project was initiated on the surgical service and consideration now is being given to extending it to the medical service. Under the system patients ise grouped according to their needs. The nursing station is decentralized into several stations with the nurse in charge being surrounded by all support services and necessary nursing assistance. The nurse now is in the immediate area of her patients and her time, energy and skills are directed more properly toward direct patient care. Establishment of a 21 - bed psychiatric unit at LMH made headway last year and the unit should be in operation this year. The hospital is to receive $80,-000 through the province for capital expenditures involved in the necessary renovations. The $80,000 is to be borrowed from the Alberta Municipal Financing Corporation with the government paying the principal and interest on the loan. The Lethbridge Region Mental Health Planning Council is seeking the establishment of a comprehensive psychiatric wing of 50 to 70 beds at the hospital. The psychiatric unit will take care of part of the needs for the area but the council is expected to continue its efforts to obtain a full wing. Last year there were 304 psychiatric admissions at the hospital plus 749 out - patient treatments'. Recreation demands grow, $600,000 outlay in 1970 The city's parks and recreation department had a. full year in 1970 and spent about $600,000 for maintenance and operation of parks and recreation facilities, including administration. While this year's budget hasn't been completed or approved, indications are it's going to be another full year for the department in an attempt to meet the growing demands of the citizens for recreation facilities and parks. Last year a total of $145,000 was allocated to cover all aspects of new open space development, major renovations to parks and buildings and the purchase of machinery and equipment necessary for both capital work and maintenance. In addition, funds from a reserve for major equipment were used to purchase an aerial ladder on a shared cost basis with the electrical department, and the major renovation to the Civic Sports Centre was completed with .provincial grant funds. The department's internal structure remained relatively unchanged from 1969. Responsibility was split into three main areas with a staff member in charge of each. Following is a breakdown of activities of each of the areas last year. The parks department, in charge of parks supervisor Horace Doe, is responsible for parks construction and maintenance, weed1 control, cemeteries, campground, buffer and median strips and other open space area. The 1970 operation was delayed early in the year by a strike of city employees but by the end of the summer most of the work had been caught up and most of the budget allocation expended. In boulevard construction the adjacent property owners were offered the top soil and grass seed free if they wished to seed the city land adjacent to their lots. A large proportion of owners of new homes accepted this offer. For the first time owners of lots adjacent to very narrow boulevards were offered one tree to plant in the front of their home in lieu of a boulevard tree. This proposal was also well accepted. A major renovation of Dieppe Boulevard median strip was undertaken. Boulevard areas where soil build - up made maintenance (and opening car doors) difficult were lowered and new boulevards seeded. The latter are mostly where the sidewalk is separated from the curb by a grass strip. Major projects in parkland development were in Henderson Park where a plant demonstration layout was further developed and a maintenance centre building erected, and in Indian Battle Park where a quantity of trees, (from the nursery section developed some years ago), were transplanted into permanent loca- tions as 15 to 20-foot high specimens. In other projects the coulee area alt 19th St. and 20th Ave. S. was improved and has proved very popular as a winter play area. This is also true of a mound! developed on the green strip in Lakeview. Development of playgrounds and sportsfields continued although problems developed in completion of designs and then in delivery of play equipment. A storage facility - concession area was built at Dave Elton Park for the use of Minor Baseball as was another ball diamond at Lakeview. With the exception of the bowling green no major problems developed in the maintenance operation. A combination of drying out during the strike and poor wintering caused problems with the bent grass on the bowling green. The problems lasted until early summer before most of the bad spots were eliminated. In general the condition of turf, trees, shrubs, and bedding plants was satisfactory but the shortage of knowledgeable gardeners was noticeable throughout the season. This was reflected in lack of care of younger trees and failure to follow - up on some recommended pruning practices on shrubs and in other ways. Tree pests continue to present control problems made more difficult by the public concern about pollution. Extensive use was made of night time watering especially on sportsfields and school grounds. In a few cases citizens were disturbed by the noise of pipes being moved and sprinklers operating but this method seems to be the only reasonable solution to the need to apply large quantities of water and still have the areas in use during the day. Weed1 control in Henderson Lake was again handled through the research project of Dr. Allan. The building section of the department is in charge of parks technician Cliff Irvine, who is also in charge of the design requirements and various phases of tendering and building developments in the parks section. This section operates the pools, rinks, and Civic Sports Centre complex, with maintenance and development responsibilities in these areas. Capital improvements were made to several facilities including a major renovation to the Civic Spoils Centre, and some development at Henderson Lake swimming pool. This latter facility continued to present problems of water loss and a sum was sliown in the five - year capital budget to have a major redesign done on the circulation system. A consultant's report on this should be available soon and alternatives will be considered at that time. Maintenance of the other facilities was not affected by major problems, however filters at both Lions and Fritz Sick pools are becoming less efficient eacb year and a pro- posal to remedy this will be part of the 1971 budget. The program responsibilities of the department are in charge of recreation supervisor Nelson Ellsworth. The policy of encouraging citizens to become part of running the activities means that much of the work of this section is involved in helping groups organize, find facilities, train leaders, and generally assist them. In 1970 responsibility for public bookings in city schools was put on this section. At Jan. U (his year were 10 psychiatric patients in the hospital with a waiting list for 31. This conipares with 12 patients and a waiting list of nine at the same time last year. At the start of this year Lethbridge had five psychiatrists and there is talk of a sixth coming to town. The norm is one psychiatrist for 50,000 population. According to the Old-man River Regional Planning Commission the area's population is estimated at 116,000. Last year LMH had 6,800 patients, up more than 500 from 1969. There was an increase of 223 surgical patients and 134 medical. The list of persons waiting to get into hospitals is growing. At LMH, for example, there were 496 persons waiting for a bed compared with 332 at the same time last year. Another highlight for this year will be the start of construction on a 150 - bed nursing home in North Lethbridge. There is a waiting list of at least 75 persons wanting to get into a nursing home. The proposed nursing home is expected to be filled within three months of opening. The city is waiting with 'baited breath' to see what the province is going to do regarding the establishment of another 50-bed senior citizens home in Lethbridge. There are two communities on the priority list for a new home and one is reported to be Lethbridge. The Lethbridge Region Mental Health Planning Council has been active in the district the past year and should be getting up a full bead of steam this year. A committee is actively engaged in determining the feasibility of establishing a detoxification and rehabilitation centre for alcoholics in the area. Alcoholism is one of the nation's top health problems. There are no facilities in southern Alberta for "drying out" and it is almost impossible to get into a city active treatment hospital for that purpose. Persons desiring to "dry out" have to go to Calgary or Edmonton. Another committee has been looking into the non - medical use of drugs and while initial meetings failed to materialize in any concrete steps being taken, further meetings are contemplated. The council is also active in promoting a psychiatric wing for LMH and was deeply involved in promoting the psychiatric unit for the hospital. You have to be the BEST to be FIRST in FURNITURE STYLES mm . . . and we've always endeavored to be well informed on "What's New" in the furniture field. Our buyers are always on hand at the furniture shows in Toronto and other centres to keep abreast of furniture developments in this ever-changing age we live in. urn � o n s 1254 3rd Avenue South for Your F u t u e FURNITURE LTD Phone 328-4133 ;