Consort case illustrates Alberta health pain

Consort is a typical small town in Alberta located along Highway 12 about an hour and a half east of Stettler.

Consort is a typical small town in Alberta located along Highway 12 about an hour and a half east of Stettler. This small community of about 700 people has not had access to acute-care beds for their community, despite having the equipment and doctors in place to provide those emergency services.

The Consort hospital serves a very large area in east central Alberta and the lack of access to emergency medical services has put all of the area’s residents at risk.

Consort had the use of their five acute-care beds suspended as of June 30, 2011, by Alberta Health Services after the loss of the community’s doctor. Alberta Health Services informed the community that, if they were successful in recruiting two doctors, their acute-care beds would be reopened.

Since that time, the people of Consort took matters into their own hands and recruited the two qualified physicians prescribed by AHS, without the aid of the Alberta government.

Frustrated by the lack of response from Alberta Health Services to their request to reopen the acute-care beds, residents organized and made the three-and-a-half-hour trip to the Alberta Legislature, in less than ideal conditions, to make their voices heard. With signs in hand, those determined people protested on the steps of the Legislature and even appeared on the evening news.

As the representative for Drumheller-Stettler in the Alberta Legislature, I was honoured to bring forward questions to the health minister, asking why after meeting the requirements laid out by AHS, they still have not had their access to acute care reinstated.

The response from the minister to the questions was not committal on any possible timeline to when the acute-care beds will be reopening.

It fills me with pride to see the people of this community step up the way the people of Consort have, in true eastern Alberta fashion. These people are committed to their community and I will remain committed to this fight to have the acute care beds reopened.

Health-care access in Alberta is becoming increasingly inconsistent throughout rural Alberta. The inconsistency has been created by a number of issues that revolve around the distribution of the spending within the system. The financial resources in AHS do not always make it to the consumer/patient, having been eroded as it passes through the multiple layers of administration.

Alberta’s health-care system can be fixed, but we cannot continue to repeat the same flawed strategies and expect different results. Reforming health care will take honest and principled leadership. A Wildrose government would work co-operatively with Albertans and health-care professionals, to do what is necessary to build a health-care system that puts Albertans first.

MLA Rick Strankman can be reached at drumheller.stettler@assembly.ab.ca

— FROM THE LEGISLATURE

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