Success stories and concerns discussed at HAC meeting

The David Thompson Health Advisory Council met with local politicians, business people and residents at the Stettler Hospital on May 12.

The David Thompson Health Advisory Council (HAC) met with local politicians, business people and residents at the Stettler Hospital on Thursday, May 12, to discuss strategic goals for the facility and health care in Stettler.

Sandy Doze, chair of the HAC, said that the advisory board, which is made of volunteers from central Alberta, is touring hospitals and health care facilities in region to discover community success stories as well as concerns. These concerns are then brought, along with those from other HACs, to Alberta Health Services (AHS). The information is used in AHS’ strategic planning sessions, Doze explained.

The meeting was well attended, with members of town council, the board of trade, and private citizens attending, filling the hospital’s board room.

“We had a tour of the hospital,” Doze said. “Stettler is doing a quality job.”

She commended the hospital and its staff on its recent job handling overflow from Red Deer, which had its operating rooms taken offline after flooding in the facility. Hospitals like the Stettler Hospital took in some of the patients waiting for surgery, ensuring that patients didn’t have to wait until the facility was repaired.

Some of the concerns brought up by Stettler group included mental health and addictions care, especially for youth; rural ambulance service, especially the possibility of a decrease in ambulance availability when hospital transfers were taking place; improvement of specialists and avoiding duplication of services, so that patients didn’t have to travel to neighbouring cities for “10 minute appointments” and then have to return in a week or two; and decreasing surgical wait times by having more minor surgery options here in Stettler.

Doze said surgical upgrades to the Stettler hospital facility were impressive, and made the site capable of handling overflow from cities like Red Deer, something that is very respectable.

With the provincial government changeover last year, membership in the HAC has dwindled, Doze said. While the original deadline for applications was May 18, she said it has been extended with no current deadline in place. The volunteer position is unpaid, but mileage is paid. For those unable to travel far, there are options for phone-in or video conferencing.

“We need eight to 10 new people in central Alberta,” Doze said. “It would be wonderful to have a wide variety of representation on the council.”

People can apply to join the HAC by visiting www.albertahealthservices.ca/about/hac.aspx, or, if seeking more information, can phone Doze at 780-682-2348.


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