At the culmination of the announcement of new high speed internet funding for the Special Areas on Friday, August 30, Rick Strankman, MLA Drumeller Stettler, stood up and identified that he had something to contribute.
Strankman said that he appreciated the developments initiated by the Provincial Government in his constituency, but was unhappy with the status of the acute care in his region. “There has been a death in my community not six miles from my home, and not thirty miles from there there is an acute bed facility that the community… [is] demanding… be reinstated,” Strankman said, “The community has found doctors on their own… and this government has not listened. I’ve made that request [for beds] in the house, to the minister. I have great frustration, and I want to publicly express that here today.”
Premier Redford took to the podium to respond, saying that Alberta Health Services had been important in ensuring the right services were in place to meet people’s need.
“As we deal with sometimes very difficult personal circumstances, it’s very important for us to make sure that we have all of the information available from medical personnel with respect to how to deal with some of these unfortunate circumstances,” Redford said, “of course it was a very upsetting time I’m sure for everyone who was involved, but I think that it would be a mistake to take… one incident, which was a terribly tragic incident, and translate that into presuming that if there was a facility with those acute care beds, that incident may have been avoided.”
“I will say, and it’s very unfortunate, and we find this an awful lot in health care circumstances, where very tragic incidents are used to exploit the sadness that families are having in order to deal with other issues that do need to be dealt with,” said Redford.
The Premier said that looking to the future in health care in Alberta “will have to be as innovative as what we’ve just been talking about with respect to the SuperNet.”
“But if we look at what acute care means for communities, what family care clinics mean for communities, and how health care workers will support families, then health care will look different,” Redford said, “and I would challenge you to say that the way forward is not by looking back. The way forward is not to say lets just look at what we had 20 years ago. It’s not good enough.”
She said looking forward is going to require re-considering health care choices that are appropriate for the community and what recourses will be required to make changes.