On Jan. 10, local politicians met with representatives from Alberta Health Services to discuss health care issues that were brought up during the election campaign, in the fall of 2017.
Town of St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller, County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham and MLA Dave Hanson took part in the closed meeting with AHS, to talk about the current state of health care in St. Paul.
After the meeting, Miller said the discussion with Alberta Health Services (AHS) went well and the key theme of the meeting was discussing accessibility to healthcare.
“There was a meeting some months ago about raising awareness and issues (regarding healthcare in the area),” Miller said, and the meeting was about how to address some of the withstanding issues, like long wait times in the Emergency Room.
“If we can get more physicians in the community with running hours, if we can get people to show up to the appointments and not have no shows where a doctor could have seen someone else in that time, we might be able to shorten some of that wait time,” said Miller.
According to the mayor, AHS has implemented some programs to address the wait issues and stress on the emergency room at the local hospital, but it’s too early on in the process to state its effectiveness.
“One thing we are getting soon is increased doctors in the area, this year. They’re currently going through evaluation to meet Alberta standards,” said Miller.
The goal of the added physicians is that patients will see their community doctor for non-emergency assessments, thus relieving stress on emergency room resources.
Miller also said the community can help their own cause, and they can do it anonymously if they choose to.
“Formalized complaints assist (AHS), so don’t be afraid to report issues. Their quality of service increases if they have information they can work with,” she explained.
Upham also took part in last week’s meeting, saying candidates heard a number of concerns expressed and anecdotal stories were shared while they were on the campaign trail, this past fall.
Concerns about the level of service they’re experiencing at the St. Paul hospital were noted, and Upham says he wanted to know if St. Paul is different from other communities, or if it’s “just a perception.”
“I think it was a good opportunity for us to float some information back and forth,” said Upham, following the meeting. At the end of the day, AHS officials heard the concerns. There were also able to offer statistical figures in response to those concerns, said Upham, along with sharing what changes have been made.
“They were very willing to listen,” said Upham. He noted that another meeting is being planned for late summer or fall.