Category Archives: Health

Frozen ground delays Unity pool construction

Although progress is being made at the site of Unity’s new swimming pool, weather has also caused some delays. According to Unity’s director of culture, parks and recreation, Nicole Goldsworthy, it is unlikely the Unity Credit Union Aquatic Centre will be ready for June 1 as originally hoped.

In order to provide swimming lessons and recreational swimming as usual for community and area residents, the old pool will be used.

Goldsworthy said, “After a meeting on February 24, 2014 with Town Council and Paradise LeisureScapes, it was determined that the installation of the walls could not proceed until the frost is out of the ground and that will likely be in May. There is still six weeks of work left to install the walls and another two weeks to pour the swimming pool deck. At the earliest, the Town of Unity may be able to open the new pool mid-July if everything stays on schedule.”

The maintenance and equipment building is almost complete, while construction on the new change house will start “as soon as possible and will be completed over the summer.”

Although the work is a little behind schedule, enough has been done to date that ensures the Town of Unity will still receive the $250,000 through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

Unity Credit Union Aquatic Centre

Most popular baby names in Saskatchewan in 2013

For the fourth year in a row, Liam was the most popular name for baby boys born in Saskatchewan.  Emma has been the most popular girls’ name for the last five years.

The second most popular names were Carter and Sophia, which moved up several spots from 2012.

There were 92 baby boys named Liam in 2013, followed by Carter, Noah, Lucas and Ethan.  Ethan held the honour as most popular boy’s name for eight years, from 2001 to 2009.

There were 80 baby girls named Emma, followed by Sophia, Emily, Olivia and Lily.  Olivia and Emily remained among the top five popular names from 2012.  Lily moved up from the sixth spot.

To date there are 15,222 live births registered in Saskatchewan in 2013, which is an increase from 15,046 in 2012.  These numbers do not include Saskatchewan mothers who gave birth outside of the province.

Top 20 Baby Boy Names (by count): Liam (92), Carter (69), Noah (65), Lucas (65), Ethan (60), Jacob (55), Mason (54), William (52), Owen (52), Jace (50), Alexander (49), Jaxon (49), Bentley (47), Benjamin (45), Jase (45), Logan (44), Hudson (43), Ryder (42), Hunter (42), Samuel (40).

Top 20 Baby Girl Names (by count): Emma (80), Sophia (72), Emily (64), Olivia (64), Lily (53), Ava (52), Brooklyn (45), Zoey (43), Brielle (40), Avery (38), Grace (38), Hannah (38), Mia (37), Hailey (37), Isabella (37), Aubrey (33), Ella (33), Abigail (33), Sadie (32), Chloe (30).

For more information on the most popular baby names and to see the list of popular names from previous years, visit the eHealth Saskatchewan website at


Working toward maximum 3 month wait time for surgery

Surgical teams across the province continue to work toward the goal of improving surgical care and reducing patient wait times to less than three months from the time surgery is planned.

Statistics to the end of November show that about 79 per cent of patients are receiving a procedure within three months thanks to the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, which is nearing the end of its four-year transformation effort in March 2014. There are 4,796 patients waiting more than three months for surgery – 10,555 fewer than when the Surgical Initiative began in March 2010.

“Thanks to a monumental effort by surgical teams, patient advisors and health region administrators, we have made incredible progress toward sooner, safer and smarter surgical care,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.

The province’s largest and busiest health regions – Saskatoon and Regina Qu’Appelle – have both faced challenges meeting surgical demand. The Saskatoon Health Region has implemented a mitigation plan to overcome increased demand for about 700 more surgeries this year; however, even with the increased effort, it will take until late 2014 to meet the target of providing all surgeries within three months.

“In a co-ordinated effort by our staff, physicians and our contracted medical facility, we are continuing to reduce the size of our surgical wait lists,” Saskatoon Health Region President and CEO Maura Davies said.

Overall, Saskatoon has been achieving the planned increased volume of surgical cases this year, but demand rose more than expected in 2013. The region’s mitigation plan to deal with the increased demand includes expanding operating room hours so an additional 465 surgeries can be performed this fiscal year and exploring ways to even out the wait lists of surgeons. The region will also work with other health regions to offer patients surgeries closer to home and will increase the number of day surgeries handled by the third-party surgical centre on contract with the Saskatoon Health Region.

Information about the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative is available at The website also features the Specialist Directory, which empowers patients and their primary care providers to compare options for surgical care.

Next week’s paper

Look for:

  • tips on keeping your kids healthy, as well as an article on the flu which has been making its rounds in our communities;
  • a feature on Si Campbell, who was asked to represent the RCAF at an international air convention in Las Vegas;
  • information on the Unity KidSport committee; and
  • a plea for help from the Unity and District Heritage Museum.

And as always check out the ads for specials at local businesses, job opportunities and upcoming events.

(After Wednesday’s high winds, people reported ice fishing shacks rolling across the lakes of the North West region, flagpoles down, grain bins blown away and other wind-related damage. This farm shelter belt didn’t suffer much damage but the photograph only shows a small portion of the  pine cones from the spruce trees scattered everywhere by the end of the day.)

after the wind


Halloween party tips from the RCMP

Unity RCMP want to wish all of their communities a safe and happy Halloween.

Sgt. Grant A. RUSK
NCO i/c Unity/ Wilkie/ Macklin RCMP Detachment

halloween yard decorations

 Below are some safety tips from the RCMP site, sent along by Sgt. Rusk.

Halloween Safety Tips – If you decide to spend your evening at a Halloween party:
  • Make sure to use the buddy system while at a party. Stay with at least one of your friends at all times, especially if you don’t know many people.
  • Be cautious of underage drinking, or any illegal drugs that may be circulating around the party.
  • Make sure to never leave your drink unattended.
  • Don’t accept a ride home from someone at the party, especially if you think they may have been drinking or doing drugs.
  • Agree on a time and a place for you and your friends to meet in the event that you get separated, so that you can all go home together.
  • Call your parents or a trusted adult right away if you feel uncomfortable and want to be picked up.

Regardless of what you are doing, make sure you are dressed for the weather which is always unpredictable in late October. Halloween is a day when people can unwind and have a blast, dress up and be spooky; but always remember to be safe while enjoying the night.

Halloween decorations

Air quality monitoring coming to Unity

The Western Yellowhead Air Management Zone Inc. will be placing a permanent air monitoring device just outside Unity sometime later this month. The instrument will be calibrated the following month and should be operational by the end of November.

Once the system is fully operational, results will be available to the public, as well as to government and industry.

About the size of a small refrigerator or filing cabinet, the airpointer system can measure a wide variety of pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, sulphur dioxide, H2S, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. With components that also measure temperature, wind speed and wind direction, analysts will also be able to tell where any pollutants are coming from.

The WYAMZ website explains: “An air zone association is intended to operate as an independent, collaborative non-profit organization of industry, government and other representatives for the purpose of collecting credible, continuous air quality data, and to communicate data and information to member organizations, the government, and the public.”

WYAMZ was set up with the support of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and is funded by its members, which includes many private industry entities as well as government. Executive director Terry Gibson explained each industrial partner is invoiced according to their specific environmental footprint under a formula developed by the Ministry of Environment. The environmental footprint takes into account emissions and production volumes.

Gibson said participation in the air monitoring zone is of benefit to industry as it allows them to be proactive in preventing environmental damage. “Businesses want to be good corporate citizens,” he said. They spend a lot of money on scrubbers and other equipment and technology to reduce emissions and monitoring air quality helps to let them know what is working and what isn’t.

Gibson says, “The Western Yellowhead Air Management Zone is committed to monitoring the air quality in the region to protect the citizens and environment.” He encourages people to visit their website at for more information.

Check out the Oct. 14 issue of the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald for additional details.

Read all about it …

Lots of news in next week’s Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald!

  • permanent air quality monitoring coming to Unity! Results will be available online;
  • photos and results from the Unity Agricultural Society’s Trade Show and Fall Fair;
  • find out what Unity golfer Justin Wood has been up to and has coming up;
  • comedy night coming up to benefit the Unity Food Bank and the Unity Health Care Auxiliary;
  • and a report on improvements to highways and rail lines in and out of Unity.
Highways paint truck

A HIghways truck paints lane lines on the new surface of Highway 14 east of Unity, while in the background piles of gravel sit in preparation for expansion of a CP rail line.




STARS in Saskatchewan

By Kathy Heilman

The West Central Municipal Government Committee, made up of towns, villages and rural municipalities in West Central Saskatchewan learned about STARS, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society, from Cindy Seidl at a meeting in Landis in August. STARS operates helicopters equipped with medical equipment to help save lives. Each helicopter is staffed by two pilots, a nurse, a paramedic and sometimes an emergency room doctor.

Seidl, who was born in Wilkie and is the granddaughter of Frank and Josie Miller, and the daughter of Ken and Joan Miller of Biggar, is the Saskatoon STARS base director. She has 18 years of experience as co-ordinator with Saskatchewan Air Ambulance.

When a patient presents at a health facility in rural Saskatchewan with, for example, heart attack symptoms, there are a series of questions to answer to determine the quickest way to get help to the patient. One important factor considered is that STARS takes eight minutes to be in the air while the air ambulance needs 30 minutes. The decision is a co-ordinated effort between emergency room doctors, the transport physician, air ambulance personnel and staff at the health care facility. The decision is made in approximately 60 seconds.

STARS has a range of 250 kilometers, which is the same distance the air ambulance can travel. The air ambulance can fly higher and avoid possible bad weather but needs an air strip to land; STARS can land on a designated spot in any rural community.

In Wilkie, the landing site for STARS is presently at the Wilkie town shop. Heartland representatives at the meeting said plans are in the works to prepare a site near the health centre, to make access to the patient quicker. In Unity, STARS lands in the open field in front of the health centre.

STARS can also be accessed by calling 911, said Seidl. This usually happens when there is a motor vehicle accident or an incident in the country. The same protocol is used to determine who should go to assist. STARS can land just about any place. Those on site – fire department, police, EMTs –can indicate to the pilots the best place to land.

Once the STARS helicopter gets to Saskatoon, it lands at a designated spot at Wilson Greenhouse for patients going to Royal University Hospital (RUH). If the patient is headed to St. Paul’s Hospital, they land at the John Diefenbaker Airport. The Children’s Hospital, scheduled for completion in 2016, will have a helipad right on the building. Currently the majority of the patients transported by STARS go to RUH.

STARS does not charge for picking up patients, but Saskatchewan Health charges $350, which can be recouped with health insurance. Under a 10-year agreement with the province, STARS is funded 50 per cent by the province and 50 per cent from donations and fundraising. Their budget is $21 million a year.

Seidl said the Saskatoon base is the second busiest of all the cities that have STARS service. STARS started out in Calgary, Alta., and now operates out of Edmonton and Grande Prairie, Alta., Winnipeg, Man., and Regina as well as Saskatoon.

Please see page 3 of the September 9 issue of the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald for additional details in the printed version of this story.

Randy Weekes, Minister of Rural and Remote Health

By Sherri Solomko

Biggar MLA Randy Weekes was appointed Saskatchewan’s Minister responsible for Rural and Remote Health in May, 2012. Last month, he was in Unity touring the health centre and meeting with staff and long term care residents.

Weekes’s main goal is to get out and visit as many rural and northern communities as possible, and to listen and learn from Saskatchewan people about their health-care concerns. He wants to get on the ground and hear, not just concerns but also some great ideas for solutions from a local perspective.

Asking Weekes about the biggest challenge in providing health care to rural residents, he responded, “Consistent and predictable access to physician services in smaller communities can be difficult. It is this government’s priority to make recruiting and retaining physicians a top priority.”

Regarding concerns on shortages of EMTs and long term care aides in Unity, Weekes said, “We know that shortages of health care workers remains an on-going challenge – especially in smaller centres. And once we’ve recruited health care workers, retaining them in a smaller community is sometimes even more difficult. We are always looking at ways to increase the complement of all health care providers – whether that’s through incentives, or more training opportunities. We’ll continue to work with the Heartland Health Region officials to ensure we have appropriate numbers of workers to meet the health care needs of patients.”

He added, “We’re often seeing a trend in the positives … such as the use of nurse practitioners in communities. Nurse practitioners have been well received in many communities that are fortunate to have one.”

He raised another issue, saying, “One other common theme is that various players in the health care system need to do a better job of communication with one another, which means the government and our health care regions have to work harder to communicate effectively with both patients and health care providers. We want to do a better job of consulting and engaging the community as a partner in the health care system …. Touring the province has been a great tool to increase outreach and communication with various communities.”

Weekes makes suggestions and presents ideas to Health Minister Dustin Duncan, based on the feedback, observations and advice he receives during visits to different communities. He said, “I … share the insights I learn on the tours with the Premier and my cabinet colleagues … I always want to ensure that the rural perspective – or rural lens – is considered when our government makes major policy or budget decisions on health care.”

Major concerns or specific requests, for example a new hospital, “are considered as part of the larger budget process.”

Weekes was “very impressed” with Unity long term care and the health centre, as well as the facilities in Wilkie. He concluded by saying, “The feedback from all avenues was very much appreciated and I would like to thank everyone at the facilities for their commitment and dedication to providing health care services in this province.”

Minister Weekes can be contacted by at, (306) 798-9014 or Room 208, Legislative Building, 2405 Legislative Drive, Regina, S4S 0B3. More information about him and his portfolio is at