April 2 Letters: Seeking Efficiencies at Alberta Health Services

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Re: GUNTER: Exodus of doctors from Alberta can be blamed on the pandemic and Tyler Shandro (March 25, 2022). In his March 25 column, Lorne Gunter suggests that Alberta Health Services’ “overwhelming bureaucracy” is one of the reasons physicians are frustrated with the health care system. We recognize that the health care system, by its very nature, is complex. This includes management, which supports the frontlines and helps provide the foundation from which our frontline teams are able to deliver patient care. These are the people who, among other things, support and enable the safe and quality work of frontline clinicians, create safe workplaces, and provide PPE to keep our frontline providers safe. They are the ones developing online tools to help Albertans book COVID-19 tests and vaccinations; who ensure that our employees, including our doctors, are paid on time; and who develop and oversee policies that govern patient care. It is important to note that we are a lean organization. AHS’s staff-to-management ratio is one manager to 34 employees, which outperforms comparable national public agencies (1:9). We also spend less on administration than other healthcare jurisdictions – the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that Alberta has the lightest healthcare administration of any province and all Canada’s territories, devoting 3.0% of its total health care expenditures to administration. The national average is 4.3%. Physician recruitment is a problem across North America. AHS has established a dedicated team that focuses on solutions to support recruitment efforts. A recent example is a six-month income guarantee program for anesthesiology at hospitals in Red Deer, Fort McMurray and Cold Lake to help with recruitment and retention. AHS is also a partner in the Rural Health Professions Action Plan and has worked with them to implement its Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Experience program to support physicians and staff who are new to rural communities. We’re always looking to do things more efficiently, and that means learning and working with our partners to find better ways of doing things, which makes the challenging roles of our frontline teams a little easier.
Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO, Alberta Health Services
(It’s always important to find efficiencies.)

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HALF EMPTY WORLD CUP

I have to comment on John Herdman’s announcement that Canada is now “football country”. No it is not. How? ‘Or’ What? So they qualified this year after 36 years. Does that make them a football country? A football country is Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Argentina, etc. They have mostly still qualified for the World Cup. Plus, when they qualify, they have a legitimate chance to win it all. Does Canada? I do not think so. I am Canadian. But I have never encouraged Canada when it comes to soccer because it is not as good as the other elite countries I mentioned above. I hate to be the bearer of bad news Herdman, but Canada is a hockey country, not a football country.
Claudio Delcioppo
(It has to start somewhere.)

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