By Eraina Hooyer
The new provincial system for all health delivery in Alberta has announced its restructuring plan to create one unified operation for Albertans.
Alberta Health Services is being structured to enhance the health care system and find an approach to put every patient, rural and urban, first when it comes to health care.
The process has been quickly moving along and although staff are still shocked by the changes they are working with the new information.
“We still are somewhat in the dark,” said site leader for Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre Sue MacKenzie. “Things seem to be moving fast but they are trying to keep us updated on the new structure. There is an atmosphere of uncertainty but we have been told to provide service as usual.”
AHS board chair Ken Hughes stated in a press release that the new shift will help benefit all Albertans and address their needs.
“We see great opportunities for patients to be even better served in the future with the changes that will occur as part of the restructuring,” said Hughes. “The plan is to have one approach to health care that integrates health services across the province and standardizes care so that all patients receive the same quality of care.”
Ron Liepert, Alberta Health Minister, believes that the shift to the new provincial system will be successful in bringing good health care to everyone.
“The new system separates board governance from the delivery of health care,” said Liepert in a telephone conference. “It will run more like a business where the board is responsible to the shareholders.”
The process of restructuring to the new provincial system has eliminated some positions and several top executives stepped down from their organizations.
“These are people who have worked very hard on behalf of Albertans and we recognize and thank them for their dedication and contribution to health service delivery,” said Hughes.
With the provincial health system there will be a Continuum of Care Division with two areas: Urban and Rural. The Council of Clinical Advisors from across the health system and an Integration Team of health care providers, administrators and planners will work with the Continuum of Care Division to make sure that a smooth transition is made without affecting health care service.
The Continuum of Care Division will be led by former deputy minister, Alberta Health and Wellness, Patty Meade, taking the position of executive operating officer. Former president and chief operating officer from the Calgary Health Region, Dr. Chris Eagle, was appointed to chief operating officer, urban. Pam Whitnack, former chief executive officer of the Chinook Health Region, has been made the chief operating officer for the Rural health delivery stream. Whitnack will be supported by former chief executive officer of the Aspen Health Region, Andrew Will, who will take the title of senior operating officer. The Chief executive officer of the David Thompson Health Region, John Vogelzang was let go and will not be working with the new board.
There will also be a second area for planning and programs that focus on public health, prevention and ambulance services. Aslam Bhatti has been appointed interim chief operating officer.
The Alberta Health Services will be meeting with public groups and interested individuals to explain the process and results of the new provincial health system.