Health Coucil meeting hears an earful Wednesday, 02 February 2011 00:00 Gillian Slade
Heath Advisory Council chairman Ken Sauer addresses a public meeting at the library on Tuesday evening about health care. -- NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE
A public meeting about the state of Alberta's health care system had some people on Tuesday night expressing dissatisfaction about delays in getting answers with one person calling it a "third world environment."
"I'm shocked at how Alberta's health care system has decayed," said Barry in the audience. Although born in Medicine Hat he has worked overseas and recently returned to live here. "After seven months we still don't have a family doctor."
The evening sponsored by the Palliser Triangle Health Advisory Council was an opportunity for Ken Sauer, chair of the council, to report on previously raised concerns and offer the answers or responses received from Alberta Health Services (AHS).
A request had been made for AHS to have a representative attend the meeting and personally respond to the public. They declined.
There are still problems for patients who are taken to Calgary by air or ground ambulance and then discharged there.
"Yesterday we heard there are still people suddenly discharged in Calgary without giving their families adequate warning that they will need to collect them," said Sauer.
There has not been a solution to the proposal to fund helicopter medevacs either.
Concern about the centralisation of health services is continuing to cause dissatisfaction among patients and business people. Sauer said an explanation of how local businesses can use the AHS website to see what they could tender on will be explained.
The centralising of food services continues to create dissatisfaction. AHS at one time said 90 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied but the council discovered that was not the case. An update on the situation is expected soon.
A number of new board members had to be appointed after Dr. Stephen Duckett's departure. There is no longer any Southern Alberta representation on the board.
The lack of movement on the proposed detox centre raised some questions. Chief of Police Andy McGrogan said 85 to 95 percent of crimes the police force is dealing with are alcohol or drug related, explained Sauer.
"The original proposal was for Medicine Hat Regional Hospital's expansion to include a detox centre," said Jan Bunney, chair of the local chapter of Friends of Medicare.
Exactly who is currently going to fund it and when it will open is not known.
A request for proposals for a hospice to provide 10 beds in a home environment closed on Jan. 15. The three proposals submitted are currently being evaluated and an announcement is expected around March 15, said Sauer.
There have not been any geriatricians hired to replace those who left more than a year ago after a dispute with Alberta Health Services.
Paul Nederveen of Friends of Medicare wanted to know who is in charge of recommending Medicine Hat to specialists and family doctors.
Les Pearson said he would like to see specialists from Calgary come to Medicine Hat to see patients on specific days rather than numerous patients travelling to Calgary. Sauer said this option would also address the problem of patients or their drivers having to take one or more days off work to go to Calgary.
The public also expressed concerns about Health Link Alberta with some patients being on hold for 20 to 45 minutes.
"When I finally did get through the service was really good," said Janice from the audience.
Sauer said the protocol was for calls to be answered within two minutes.
For those without a family doctor there are concerns about the varying levels of service at walk-in clinics.
Dennis Perrier called for doctors to be put on salaries rather than a fee for service structure.
"They're not business men, they are doctors."
Members of the council serve on a voluntary basis, receive no payment for their services and are only reimbursed for travel costs to attend a meeting in another town or city