Special Health Care Message, from PC Alberta Leader Ed Stelmach

I’m always delighted when I see an email from the PC Party in my inbox – especially over the last several months. Recently I have especially noticed the importance the Party Executive, and the Party Leader, Ed Stelmach, have put on being open and transparent with their party members and the public. They are making sure we are informed and a part of the process.

This email was sent this afternoon at about 3:30pm. We wanted to share.

“A Special Health Care Message” right from the PC Leader. No media spin, no opposition spin, and no spin from those of us chirping on twitter.

I’m especially impressed with his promise of 600 more continuing care beds by March 31, 2011. That is only 4 months away – and after chatting with a doctor friend of @ppilarski and mine over the weekend I believe this will help dramatically. She explained, through her firsthand experience, that more continuing care beds and a stronger home care system will alleviate some of the ER stress.

Looking forward to the continued communication from the PC Leader and for the additional information he committed to providing in the coming weeks.


To: pcforum@albertapc.ab.ca
Subject: Health Care Message
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 15:27:13 -0700

Alot has been said on the state of our health care system in Alberta over the last few days, and given the many calls and e-mails coming in to the PC Alberta office recently, we thought that it was important to provide you with a report on what is actually taking place in health.

First, we want to make it clear that despite the claims that the system is in crisis, our emergency rooms are open and front line staff continue to deliver the services Albertans require.

Yes, ER waiting times have been recognized as being too long, which is why a number of initiatives were put in place in recent months, like new emergency department protocols and the opening of 81 additional acute care beds in Edmonton and Calgary over the next three months to create new surge capacity. In addition, new primary care networks have been set up across the province.

In total there are now 38 of these networks and more will be added to the system soon. About two million Albertans now have access to health care services through these innovative networks.

We have also established a five-year funding plan for health services that will provide the stability needed in the system to deliver better care. This funding is supporting 800 new continuing care beds and will provide at least 600 more beds by March 31, 2011. These dollars will also contribute to the expansion of the Alberta Health Services home care program that is supporting 900 more high-needs home care clients in Calgary and Edmonton.

Unfortunately, all these positive initiatives have been overshadowed by the personal distractions of the last few weeks. Decisions such as the suspension of a caucus colleague are always difficult and taken very seriously.

During this time, caucus offered great compassion and support to Dr. Sherman for the pressures he faced as a physician and as a member of Government Caucus. Ultimately, while we respect and welcome constructive debate and advocacy, we have to ensure that it is done for the best interest of Albertans.

This is true in caucus and it is also true on the Alberta Health Services leadership team. That’s why we support their decision to appoint interim chief executive officer, Dr. Chris Eagle, and we remain committed to our goal of creating the best performing health-care system in the country and reducing emergency room wait times.

Next week you will see more information about Alberta’s health care action plan. This plan outlines the initiatives that we will undertake and the performance measures that will highlight our progress to becoming the best-performing public funded health care system in Canada. 

Finally I want to recognize and thank all health care professionals who continue to deliver necessary health services to you and your families.

Ed Stelmach

5 thoughts on “Special Health Care Message, from PC Alberta Leader Ed Stelmach

  1. We no longer believe Ed Stelmach or this government . These are empty promises from a leader who has no credibility. We have had promises before which have not been kept. We need a new leader and a new Premier. Now.

  2. I’m thankful PC leader Ed Stelmach has acknowledged the issues in Alberta’s health care system. Rather than divert from taking action on the issue at hand, much like Dr. Raj Sherman has in spending all his time the last week in front of a camera saying cheese, Ed Stelmach has moved beyond this to gain ground for the betterment of all Albertans.

    I strongly encourage those who imply Ed Stelmach has no credibility with broken promises to research their convictions thoroughly, so not to solely rely on the media’s messaging. I think you’ll find that Ed Stelmach is a credible leader who is bringing Alberta out of this recession on top.

  3. Normally, it is easy to admire unyielding faith, and your faith in the PC Party surely is that. But does there not come a time when you must question if your faith is well placed?

    Today you received an email from the Premier. You praised the openness and transparency, particularly in dealing with health care.

    A few hours later we learn that the Department of Health has for many months secretly been looking (once again) at an American, privatized health care system – see http://ht.ly/3h9KV for a link to the actual document.

    (Please note – I apologize that the posted link seems to be to an AB Liberal Caucus page – the link to the document is on that page. It seems inappropriate to link to the Liberals on this page, but I don’t know any other way to get to the document. I assure you I am not a hack or troll for, or even a supporter of, the Liberals.)

    While Minister Zwozdesky is distancing himself from the document, he admits that it was created by his department many months ago, and has no explanation as to why he has never mentioned it or made it public before. So much for transparency.

    Finally, the Premier talks about “opening of 81 additional acute care beds in Edmonton and Calgary over the next three months to create new surge capacity.”

    What he did not mention is that “surge capacity” beds are defined as “placing patients in spaces that are not regular inpatient rooms or care spaces and extending the nurse-to-patient ratio, usually using the existing nursing complement.” – in plain language – just placing a stretcher in the hallway or throwing 3 beds in a 2 bed room – and not providing any additional staffing.

    So what is really being planned is simply moving patients from stretchers in the Emergency room, where they are not being treated, to stretchers upstairs, where they will not be treated. They don’t plan to deal with the problem – they plan to hide it.

    There are more than 81 regular beds sitting empty in Edmonton and Calgary, because of a hiring freeze imposed by AHS. All that needs to be done is hire some staff, open some closed beds and unit. AHS was given a 6% increase in finding this year. UNA, the union representing Registered Nurses agreed to wage freeze in the first year of the contract. There is no reason why this could not happen now!

    Health care is complicated and it is entirely possible that Mr. Stelmach is not aware of these things.

    But you are in a position to help. If the leadership of the PC Party is being disingenuous, please tell them to stop it. If they are not being told the whole story of what is going on, please ask them to look into it!

  4. Also, what needs to be confirmed is the net number of new continuing care beds. We know there are new beds but we also know that in Red Deer they closed 2 nursing homes so there are 2 net new beds in Red Deer.

    In Edmonton there will be 150 beds at Villa Caritas but they are moving 106 patients from Alberta Hospital to the Villa so there are 44 net new beds. What is the chance they are counting all 150 in their total.

    Do you get the feeling that I do not trust the PC government?

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