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Tag: Adriana LaGrange

Chelsae Petrovic

Petrovic ‘eager to collaborate’ with front lines through health-care appointment

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Chelsae Petrovic will use a new government role to continue advocating for front-line health-care workers, she said on social media last week.

Named by Premier Danielle Smith as the parliamentary secretary for health workforce engagement, Petrovic is “eager to collaborate with heath-care professionals across the province, engaging directly with those on the front lines to understand their needs and concerns,” she posted on Instagram.

“Together, we will work towards building a health-care system that prioritizes the well-being of both patients and providers.”

Just before her successful run last year to represent Livingstone-Macleod, the UCP candidate was accused of victim-blaming and made cross-country headlines. She suggested in a podcast that some heart patients could be held accountable for their condition because of health and lifestyle decisions.

Petrovic, who spent more than 13 years working in Livingstone-Macleod as a licensed practical nurse, admitted then that she could have chosen her words more carefully. But she did not apologize, saying comments pulled from a full-length podcast failed to capture nuance and context.

Petrovic’s appointment comes as the UCP government prepares to restructure Alberta Health Services into four specializations: primary care, acute care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction.

 

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After attending public-engagement sessions on the restructuring in Livingstone-Macleod earlier this year, the former Claresholm mayor said she was continuing to take a deep dive into the local situation before returning to Edmonton for the post-Christmas resumption of the legislative assembly.

Petrovic said then that she had confidence in Health Minister Adriana LaGrange

“I was probably her biggest critic when it comes to this,” Petrovic said.

But after Petrovic shared problems and scenarios from the front lines, LaGrange won her over. “She gave me hope for the future of health care,” Petrovic said in February.

A provincial news release on Petrovic’s appointment said that consultation with health-care workers is vital.

“Alberta’s government has been clear that throughout this refocusing process and as the system changes, health-care workers must be empowered in their roles,” the release said, adding that Petrovic will help in that work.

 

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“Albertans deserve a better, stronger health-care system,” said Premier Smith, the member for Brooks-Medicine Hat, in the release.

“Addressing issues that have been allowed to grow for decades is a major job. Chelsae will play a pivotal role in ensuring that we continue to hear from the hard-working men and women who serve on the front lines of health care. I am confident her work will help lead to a stronger system.”

LaGrange said in the release: “I look forward to collaborating with Chelsae in the weeks and months to come. With her health-care background, she will bring a very important perspective to our refocusing work.

“The voice of every health-care worker is critical to understanding what is actually happening on the front lines and what needs improving. Chelsae will help us incorporate those voices to strengthen the health system for all Albertans.”

The Opposition NDP was not enthusiastic about the government’s choice. A release quotes NDP health critic Luanne Metz calling the appointment “incredibly poor judgment” from the premier that will “cause more chaos” in health care.

Undeterred, Petrovic posted on Instagram: “Our government has emphasized the pivotal role of front-line health-care workers in our health-care system’s refocusing from the onset. In my new capacity, I am committed to ensuring this principle is not only upheld but actively put into practice.”

 

 

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With a commitment, we move forward

The health system remains under immense pressure. I am pleased that the Alberta health minister has made two commitments with the 2024 budget in response.

First, she has agreed to implement a new funding model for the comprehensive, lifelong care provided by family and rural physicians.

Second, she will ensure that Alberta can compete with our neighbouring provinces when it comes to retaining and recruiting physicians and medical learners.

Budget 2024 also provides more funding for the additional services that physicians are providing to more Albertans as our population continues to grow. We will work with the government to implement our AMA agreement.

I had a chance to speak with Minister Adriana LaGrange after the budget announcement. As you know, the AMA has been advocating loudly and ceaselessly for a commitment to a new comprehensive-care payment model and stabilization for family and rural medicine.

I am grateful to many members who lent their voices to our SOS campaign to save family and rural medicine. You were heard.

The minister has given me her word that we will implement the physician comprehensive care model as quickly as possible. She went further with a commitment to ensuring that Alberta will once again be competitive with other provinces for retention and recruitment — and make family and rural medicine viable across the province.

 

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The minister can move forward, now that there is money in the budget that can be used, to lock stabilization and the new payment model down and get the job done. We need to move expeditiously. The urgency is still very real.

This will allow us to work collaboratively on some of the other big pieces. I made a promise to physicians in acute specialty care that we would advocate strongly for their needs when family and rural medicine matters were starting to turn in the right direction.

We will need to keep pushing on primary care, but you will be seeing acute-care advocacy really coming to the fore. I hope we can count on members to continue to participate and show support for your colleagues in all specialties.

By the numbers, Budget 2024 has funding for primary care. There’s been an increase to the physician services budget that will offset some of the volume we have seen from population growth and add a partial funding top-up for inflation. It does not catch up, but because we negotiated a rate agreement, this is less of an issue.

Among line items in general, the specifics need to be worked out about where the money is going. We’ll be digging into that as we head into the busiest two-year period of our four-year agreement.

Dr. Paul Parks, President
Alberta Medical Association

 

Shootin’ the Breeze welcomes submissions about local issues and activities. Personal views expressed in Mailbox articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect views of Shootin’ the Breeze management and staff. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Province engages with public on health system

Community members and health-care professionals gathered on Jan. 23 at the Coast Hotel in Lethbridge for the first of 45 in-person engagement sessions to be hosted throughout the province by the Government of Alberta.

The sessions looked to get input from the community on the health-care system and the overhaul that was announced in November of last year. 

During her introduction, Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange emphasized the importance of public feedback saying, “The goal of these in-person engagement sessions really is to dig deeper into our current health-care system to look at what’s working, what’s not working and what kind of solutions may exist to improve or eliminate the challenges.” 

Calling the discussions “critical” she told attendees, “The future of healthcare is in your hands,” adding, “We know the current system is broken, or at the very least not doing well, but for too long we’ve seen our nurses, doctors and health-care teams buckle under the strains and stresses of an inefficient health-care system.” 

Stresses to the health-care system have been an ongoing concern for Albertans, with rural emergency rooms regularly closed due to a lack of physician availability. Just hours prior to the event, the Milk River emergency room had announced its temporary closure scheduled to last until Wednesday morning. 

When asked what was currently being done to address these closures, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health System Refocusing Matthew Hebert was unable to comment. 

 

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Of the 45 engagement sessions listed on the Government of Alberta website, more than half are scheduled during the day, which could impact participation. Of those during the day, all are rural locations. Only nine of the engagement sessions are scheduled after 5 p.m., including Edmonton and Calgary events. 

Following LaGrange’s address – which included an anecdote about 27 patients at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton who occupied beds because they were unable to access other supports due to issues filing their taxes – Hebert presented an overview of the planned restructuring and what issues in the current health system needed to be rectified.

Among the reasons for the restructure was the concern that despite spending per capita aligning with similar provinces, health outcomes were not as expected, in addition to long wait times – especially in rural areas and Indigenous communities, a complicated health care system, and leadership needing improvement. 

Though barriers of access for Indigenous communities were a key concern, it was not specified whether any consultation with the Indigenous community has occurred or is planned for the future. 

The overhaul will include four pillar organizations: Primary Care, Continuing Care, Acute Care, and Mental Health and Addictions. Under the umbrella of the Primary Care Organization, the government intends to ensure every Albertan is attached to a care provider, and “ensure accountability for all publicly funded providers and clinics.”

 Additionally, the primary care level is intended to “support Alberta Health in determining alternative payment models.”

 

 

The other organizations of care look to improve access to services and will contract third-party service providers with the provincial government maintaining oversight. Alberta Health Services will only provide primary and continuing care in rural areas where necessary.

Herbert highlighted in his presentation that the overhaul is intended to meet the needs of current Alberta residents while also managing the demands of a growing population. 

Since 2019, the population of Alberta has increased by nearly 42,000 people, with much of that growth attributed to the “Alberta is Calling” campaign that targeted those in urban centres like Vancouver and Toronto and encouraged them to move to Alberta.

Despite that growth – and taking into consideration the 13.73 per cent inflation rate – the 2023 health-care budget has only increased by 1.71 billion as compared to 2019, when the current government was elected. 

Herbert said “we’re looking forward to getting that direct feedback from the public just to inform how we will continue over the coming years to build and establish the new health care system.” 

Members of the media were not permitted to attend the community discussion and feedback portion of the event.

 

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