I have been a volunteer in Red Deer for over 30 years in a variety of positions with several organizations, including Alberta Health Services.
Recently, I spoke to a reporter regarding the wasteful use of AHS staff at H1N1 clinics. While staff waited, vials of vaccine sat unopened, and many citizens waited anxiously for their eligible H1N1 category to be called.
The day after my comments were printed in the Advocate, I received a stinging “slap on the wrist’ and stern lecture from an Alberta Health Services staff member. My actions were a direct breach of the AHS staff and volunteer “Code of Conduct” and “Confidentiality” policies that we have heard so much about recently.
Of course, I was well reassured that these policies were not gag orders but simply guidelines how we “must act when belonging to the organization!” Apparently this includes speaking to the media regarding unnecessary government spending, mismanagement, and failure to prepare and implement an effective action plan.
Still reeling from the slap, I was then accused of “fuelling the fire.”
In reality, the Ed Stelmach government and AHS have enough matchsticks and fuel to keep the controversial health-care fires aflame for quite some time and without help from an unassuming volunteer. A botched H1N1 rollout, lack of transparency and accountability, proposed cuts to beds, staff and services, critical concerns over seniors’ care, and a multitude of other blazes are all reaching the explosive stage in this province. . . and those are just in the health care sector!
I am unable to continue as an AHS volunteer with such restrictions placed on my freedom of speech, and ability to express my opinions openly without fear of reprisal.
I greatly admire and respect the dedication and hard work done in this city by hundreds of health care volunteers. I will truly miss working with many of you. Good luck and continued success in providing the excellent services to the citizens of Red Deer.