There’s high hopes in the community for Alberta Health Services’ new Health Advisory Councils.
Developed to advise the provincial health board, councils will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback on health service delivery.
The councils replace 59 community health councils that operated under the nine former health regions.
“They have their first meeting in January, which is now over a year after the other boards were dismantled. There’s a lot of pent up questions particularly because of all the changes. How are they going to handle all that, that’s the question,” said Sam Denhaan, president of the Central Alberta Council on Aging, on Wednesday.
And that first meeting will be an organizational meeting to set up the local council and to allow members to meet, he said.
The 12 councils, each one representing different areas of the province, will each hold four to six meetings each year.
Denhaan said with so few meetings it could be difficult to give the public an opportunity to voice their concerns.
“The health advisory council has been touted as the connection for the population to the health system. They need to be connected to the community so they can gather the information that they need to bring forward.”
Fourteen Central Albertans were appointed to the Health Advisory Council for Central Alberta, including Stacey Carmichael of Blackfalds, who is the co-ordinator of community leadership initiatives for Red Deer and District Community Foundation.
Carmichael said she is aware of the depth of the public’s concerns but remains optimistic about what can be accomplished if everyone works together.
Carmichael, who is currently involved in Red Deer’s efforts to reduce homelessness and previously worked to develop Red Deer’s detox centre for drugs and alcohol, said she doesn’t shy away from controversial issues.
“We got a detox centre. Who would have thought five years ago that would ever happen? Now it’s got all kinds of great community support,” Carmichael said.
“I think if we just take the time and talk until the talking is done, just keep talking and understanding each other, everything will be just great.”
Members of Health Advisory Council 9 (Central Alberta) were announced two weeks ago and also include: Bruce Buruma and Stephane Perreault of Red Deer, Lou Soppit and Lance Houston of Rocky Mountain House, Clifford Watt of Sylvan Lake, Dawn Morrow of Innisfail, Johana Stark of Ponoka, Leona Thorogood of Stettler, Gerald Ingeveld of Sundre, Dawna Elliot of Coronation, Randy Littlechild of Hobbema, Diana Rowe of Drumheller and Jeannette Vatter of Drayton Valley.