As you saw from our colleagues at Moose and Squirrel in Sundre in the post we shared this week, health care is in for a big change in Alberta. For those of you who lived through the Ralph Klein days, you have an idea of what we're in for. I didn't live through those cuts, but yesterday was one of those days that truly highlighted for me how the government changes that are coming – and coming quickly – will really impact patient care. Out of 31 patients, only 2 had a short, 1 issue appointment. Only 2 could have realistically been managed in 10 minutes because 10 minutes includes the physician's notes and any referrals/form requests. We've worked hard over the past 2 years at Riverside Medical to improve care in the valley by meeting the standards of the Patient Medical Home. It's been a pleasure and a dream working with our team and having the opportunity to practice medicine we're proud of. But these changes, which the government will put in motion on February 27, 2020, will result in changes to the way we operate. The financial impact will hit our bottom line substantially and without operational changes, we may be unable to stay open.
The Minister has spent ample time on twitter complaining about overpaid physicians without considering overhead costs of rent, supplies, and staff salaries, insurance costs, tax deductions, etc. These cuts threaten many clinics across the province. And yet, nobody has proposed to cut 5% from AHS administrator salaries to help protect front line services. As our colleagues at Moose and Squirrel in Sundre astutely noted: "It is rural Albertans who are being asked to give up their health services for the sake of the system. This isn't fair to our patients, and it isn't fair to our community." We agree.
What kind of changes will you see in our Patient Medical Home?
- Shorter visits
- Multiple appointments for complex patients
- Longer wait times
- Seniors paying for Driver's Medicals
We will do everything we can to continue providing timely access and quality care, but please be patient with us as we try to find ways to ensure our survival.
What can you do to help?
Well, in addition to primary care compensation cutbacks, the Alberta government commissioned a report to find ways to save health care dollars. While they promise no rural hospital will be closed at this time, AHS has been asked to consider:
- Changing Acute Care beds to Long-Term care beds.
- Changing our 24/7 ER to Urgent Care, where services are unavailable between 11:00pm to 7:00am.
These changes would greatly impact our ability to provide quality care in our community and would be just the start of further cutbacks.
We have fought against these changes. Rithesh has met with our MLA, Nate Horner, and presented at the Rural Caucus in Edmonton with other rural physicians fighting for continued quality care in rural areas. But sadly, we have failed. The fight to stop closure of our hospitals has to come from you! Contact the people below and let them know that rural Albertans are the backbone of Alberta. Rural health care matters and our community deserves to keep its full service hospital. Thank you for your support.
Email our MLA, Nate Horner: Drumheller.Stettler@assembly.ab.ca
Email Health Minister Tyler Shandro: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @shandroAHS
Contact Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of AHS: Verna.Yiu@albertahealthservices.ca