By Chandra Lye
Although the province is making headway with it’s 5-year action plan for health services, it is Calgary that seems to be leading the way.
“The number of people waiting to be moved out of emergency into acute care beds has been decreased by 51 per cent over the last year in Edmonton and by 80 per cent in Calgary,” health minister Gene Zwozdesky said at a press conference at the University of Alberta Thursday.
President and CEO for Alberta Health Services, Dr. Chris Eagle, says the difference is due to demographics as well as health care approaches.
“The communities of Calgary and Edmonton have different demographics. The age, social status of the individuals are different. They way the system has developed is different. I think we are just starting from different starting places,” he explained, but added, “What I see is that both Edmonton and Calgary are making very, very marked improvement.”
“We’ve concentrated on the quality of care as you go through the system,” Zone Medical Director for Edmonton Dr. Owen Heisler said.
“There’s different facilities available. They open at different times, at different starting points,” he said. “We believe we’ve made significant progress. We think it’s sustainable progress.”
At the meeting Zwozdesky said the province has met 18 out of 19 actions they wanted to complete. It’s the plan for continuing care that is proving more difficult.
“It is more complicated than we initially thought,” Zwozdesky said. He reaffirmed that they are still committed to adding 1,000 new continuing care spaces and making improvements to Home Care.
“It will be ready in a few months but it is not there just yet.”
The benchmark for surgeries was met and then some. Zwozdesky says they have been able to add an additional 10,000 new surgeries over the past year.
“That is over and above roughly a quarter of a million we do annually.
“While there is a still a ways to go it is working,” he said. “Having one large provincial-wide health authority is really helping to yield that result.”
He added that he believed the changes were sustainable for Alberta’s health care system.