Communities in the region are not happy with how Alberta Health Services (AHS) is handling the lack of X-ray services in Morinville.
The Morinville Clinic has been without a functional X-ray machine since February 2020 and is still awaiting a replacement from AHS.
Last January, it was announced that the services would be closed permanently due to low patient numbers, difficulty in recruiting staff, and no functioning equipment.
Yet, that hasn't stopped local leaders from pushing back.
Back in October, Morinville Mayor Simon Boersma, penned a letter to the Alberta Minister of Health, Jason Copping, asking for assistance.
"The clinic is a valuable asset in our community, providing greatly needed testing facilities with a comprehensive range of routine and specialized lab testing and clinical consultations for residents in Morinville, Sturgeon County, as well as members of Alexander First Nation," wrote Boersma.
The letter also acknowledged that, of Morinville's 10,578 population,10 per cent of residents are aged 65 or older, making it difficult for many to commute to other communities.
Copping did respond, stating that X-ray services ended because the equipment had reached the end of its life.
"Alberta Health Services understands the importance of access to health care but needs to ensure health services are provided in a safe, efficient, and sustainable manner that utilizes limited staff and health care resources most effectively for Albertans," wrote Copping.
This answer hasn't sat well.
Bon Accord Mayor, Brian Holden wasn't happy with how the situation was unravelling and penned a letter in November pushing back at the minister.
"Minister Copping's response was not favourable," Holden told FortSaskOnline.com. "He's tended to want all of the seniors and people who can't really get out and drive to actually drive to St. Albert or some other larger community and that just doesn't cut it with us."
"That X-ray clinic services a huge area... a lot of those folks can't get into St. Albert, but they can get a drive 10 minutes down the road to Morinville."
Holden is also concerned about how funneling rural patients into urban clinics will affect wait times.
"I don't know how the City of St. Albert feels about having all these extra people come in to create longer wait times...I don't think that's a good thing either," said Holden.
As far as Holden can see, the problem lies in cost.
"There's an end of life for all equipment and when that equipment fails, normally we replace it, [AHS] doesn't want to spend the money to replace it and that just won't work."
The price tag associated with this specific equipment is not readily available, but recent examples from across the province suggest a large range of anywhere between $50,000 and $700,000.
In his letter, Holden made a final plea for AHS to reconsider its position.
"Although Alberta Health Services' mission of 'patient-focused...accessible and sustainable' services is commendable, failure to replace critical medical equipment does not achieve this important mission statement for all Albertans. We urge [AHS] to stand together with rural communities once again and show them we are valued. All it takes is one step in the right direction," wrote Holden.