Pap smears will be processed elsewhere

Health Minister Ron Liepert says Red Deer is losing its lab to test pap smears.

Health Minister Ron Liepert says Red Deer is losing its lab to test pap smears.

During Monday’s question period at the legislature, Liepert said Alberta Health Services has decided that testing in Alberta will be centralized at labs in Calgary and Edmonton.

He expects samples will start being transported to those cities soon.

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has seven cytotechnologists who test pap smears and last week a few spoke out against the plan, worried for their jobs and patient safety due to delays and mistakes from increased workload if samples are sent away.

They also argue that removing the lab would separate biopsy testing, which would continue to be done in Red Deer, from pap smears so pathologists can’t immediately compare the results side by side for better analysis.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said he has yet to see evidence from government to support a change in gynecological cytology.

Why aren’t the people in the labs, who know the most, being consulted, he asked.

“I think Albertans are tired of these arbitrary decisions made behind closed doors,” Swann said on Monday from Lethbridge.

Alberta Health Services “just seems to be making decisions because they feel the pressure to change something and we keep asking for evidence that this is going to improve the system,” Swann said.

“We find often they are looking for short-term cost reductions and it ends up costing us much more in the long term with much more frustration and other challenges in the system that we don’t predict or that we don’t anticipate very well.”

David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare, said consolidation will be bad for rural Alberta.

“We’re concerned about specialized medical services leaving centres around the province. Centralization of lab testing is problematic specifically because you’re losing a level of expertise in regions that help create a better, bigger capacity for care in places other than Edmonton and Calgary,” Eggen said from Edmonton.

It’s also disturbing that the province is looking at changing cytology without public consultation, he said.

“You can’t not show your cards with something as important as public health care. It’s just not something that you should be secretive about.

“We’re always vigilant to watch for privatization so we would discourage the centralization for the potential it could serve to make it easier to sell off down the road sometime,” Eggen said.

Last week, Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas said he has contacted Alberta Health Services on behalf of Red Deer cytotechnologists who want to continue to make Red Deer their home.

He said he is concerned for hospital staff, but there’s also the commitment that government has made to look at the health care processes and costs to enhance long-term sustainability of health care.

“I’m torn in a sense,” Dallas said.

“I recognize the difficulty of the situation, and while I personally would like to see those services stay in Red Deer, whatever decision is made, I will be certain to ensure that there are no health delivery impacts in terms of the quality of health care to the constituents of Red Deer South as a result of any decision that might be made.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Chemical analysis may provide clues to cause of huge Red Deer industrial fire

Fire on April 17 caused $9 million in damage to oil and gas industrial building

New loonie reason to celebrate and educate: central Alberta LGBTQ community

The new LGBTQ2 loonie is a conversation starter and a reason to… Continue reading

C & E Trail property owner wants to use land as RV storage yard

Red Deer city council gives initial approval

Indigenous cultural centre needed in Red Deer

Urban Aboriginal Voices Society hosts annual community gathering

Red Deer youth recognized for his compassion

Blackfalds man dies after vehicle collision

MISSING: Joshua Arthur Sanford

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Family: A potpourri of Easter egg hunts, music and politics

The election is a thing of the past. Albertans have spoken. They… Continue reading

Most Read