As chair of the David Thompson Health Advisory Council, I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the points brought forward by Don Hepburn in his letter to the editor dated Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011.
Mr. Hepburn raised several concerns including web access issues and the lack of relevant, up to date council information. I also found this to be unsettling so I accessed the council website and had no issues to speak of. To take it a step further, I then spoke with our Alberta Health Services liaison about this and was informed the situation had already been investigated by AHS. Very rarely the cache (temporary memory) settings in Internet Explorer are not refreshed. A simple solution is to go to the browser window and follow these steps: click on Tools, Internet Options, Temporary Internet Files, Delete Files and then click on Settings and ensure that the browser checks for newer versions of stored pages “Every visit to the page.” Close the browser completely (all windows) and restart it.
I confirmed council web pages were updated in December with the most recent council information. We strive to be accessible to all members of our communities within our zone and we openly welcome and encourage the public to contact us and bring forward their voice via a presentation at a meeting, email or phone call to myself or the vice chair as both of our contact information is listed.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the work council has done to date, what future opportunities are in store, council member representation and the other various forms of involvement we have had. I must say, while the past year has been very developmental we have moved forward in our activities and in representing the voice of our communities and we look forward to the continuation of this.
We have 14 active council members each with their own network of contacts through their career connections and personal interests in their communities. Council members bring key points from these contacts to the council for further discussion.
To date we have been asked for our voice in consultations on EMS contract provisions, the 21 Day Menu concerns, Tobacco Reduction policy, Alberta Health Plan, and the Community and Rural Planning Framework that has recently taken place in three of our communities amongst others.
As we move to the future it is clear from our conversations with Alberta Health Services Executive and Board members that we will also be involved in larger, strategic consultations and we are already seeing this realization with our involvement in the Strategic Planning Scenarios, Driving Forces workshops that will determine health-care scenarios for 2030. On many levels we see where our involvement will influence health-care service, delivery and policy both now and in the future and this is only the beginning of our second year!
While we have been very involved in the above mentioned activities I feel it is extremely important to note that we have also heard the voice of community and the health care concerns they bring to us via presentations made to council at meetings. When communication from communities is received council must determine an appropriate direction in dealing with the many and varied items brought to their attention. This most often requires additional information from Alberta Health Services, arrange a discussion with communities for a clearer understanding of the situation/issue and then determine how to move the item forward for a workable solution for all the partners (i.e. the community, stakeholder organization, the council and Alberta Health Services). Councils are not advocates on behalf of any one organization or issue but represent the issues and concerns identified, gather the operational or statistical information and make a recommendation to Alberta Health Services once the gaps and/or needs are identified and potential solutions are considered. Respecting a process will allow our members to be adequately informed before we move forward on a decision or action; all in support of a successful outcome.
A look back over the past year highlights the varied forms of involvement we have had both with community and with Alberta Health Services and it is in doing this that reminds me of why we volunteer on this council. If you consider that we have met as a council a total of seven times at this point I think most would agree we have been very actively involved in representing our communities. Our voice does matter and it truly does make a difference. If you have any questions or comments, I invite you to contact me. Your voice is important!
David Thompson Health Advisory Council