The Fight to Keep Rockyview Hospital’s Hair Salon Open

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Rockyview Hospital’s Hair Salon Set to Close: A Community's Struggle

The looming closure of a beloved hair salon nestled within Calgary's Rockyview General Hospital is stirring up quite a bit of concern among its patrons and the dedicated owner. Ben Kanbour, who took over A Cut Above Beauty Salon and Hair Studio in March 2011, has expressed his shock and sadness over Alberta Health Services' (AHS) decision to shut it down. The salon, which has been a staple in the hospital for over 50 years, is now facing the end of its lease. Kanbour shared his distress with Global News, revealing that he must vacate by June 30th.

A Personal and Community Loss

For many of Kanbour's clients, the salon’s closure feels personal. Among them is Evelyn Fagin, who has turned to the salon multiple times during her hospital stays. Fagin recounted her first visit, which occurred during an extended stay in the emergency room. She remembers the mess her hair had become and how Kanbour's services made a significant difference. "This all became a rat’s nest," she said, gesturing to her hair. "I can’t say enough about that man. He went above and beyond."

Fagin has reached out to AHS, expressing her displeasure at the closure. To her, the salon plays an integral role in the well-being of many patients. "It makes you feel better. Makes you feel like a human again. Not just a number. Not just a patient," she explained, underlining the emotional and psychological impact of such services.

AHS Responds

According to AHS, the hair salon operates as a private business leasing space within the hospital. The lease, originally set to expire in December 2023, was extended to June 30, 2024, to give Kanbour time to find a new location. AHS clarified that the salon falls outside its primary responsibility of providing health-care services to Albertans, particularly in a hospital environment. They noted that most of the salon’s clientele come from the surrounding community, not the hospital itself.

Infrastructure and Planning Issues

Chris Gallaway from Friends of Medicare attributed the salon's closure to a lack of long-term planning by AHS. He pointed to a broader infrastructure deficit, emphasizing that AHS is scrambling to find space wherever possible due to a shortage of hospital beds across Calgary, Edmonton, and the province at large. "It’s part of this infrastructure deficit," Gallaway remarked. "They’re trying to find space wherever they can because we haven’t done the long-term planning. We’re already hundreds of beds short in Calgary, in Edmonton, and across the province."

Gallaway lamented the potential loss of such crucial services, highlighting their importance in the holistic care of patients. "These services are part of care," he said. "Whether it’s food, whether it’s hair, whether it’s other pieces of people’s lives — having those onsite is so important for people who are there trying to heal."

The Community’s Hope

Despite the grim outlook, Kanbour remains hopeful. He encourages the community to voice their concerns to AHS and their local Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). He believes that with enough public support, the salon might remain open to continue serving both hospital patients and the wider community.

"When I first started, people were kissing my hands and hugging me," Kanbour recalled, reminiscing about the deep connections he has built with his clients over the years. His hope is that these same connections will inspire a collective effort to save the salon.

Unique in Its Kind

Interestingly, AHS noted that the Rockyview salon is believed to be the only business of its kind inside a major Alberta hospital. This uniqueness makes its closure even more significant, as it highlights the blend of essential services that go beyond typical health care, contributing to the overall patient experience.

What’s Next?

As the June 30th deadline approaches, the future of A Cut Above Beauty Salon and Hair Studio hangs in the balance. The community’s response and the actions taken by AHS and local MLAs will ultimately determine the fate of this cherished establishment.

Do you agree with this closure? Or do you believe such services are essential in hospital settings? Share your thoughts and join the discussion in the comments below.