“Criminal” backlogs in emergency departments are directly related to the large number of seniors getting the wrong treatment in the wrong facilities, says an Edmonton MLA ousted last November from the Tory caucus.
Emergency physician Raj Sherman, MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, spoke to a packed house at Red Deer’s Golden Circle on Tuesday, hosted by the Friends of Medicare and the Central Alberta Council on Aging.
Alberta offers world-class health treatment, Sherman told and audience of about 150 people, including Red Deer MLAs Cal Dallas and Mary Anne Jablonski.
But extremely long waits in emergency departments, along with the lack of family physicians, are huge obstacles for people trying to get access to those treatments, he said.
Obviously, the best way to resolve an ailing health system is to not get sick in the first place, he said.
Solutions to the current crisis in emergency rooms starts with enhancing home care and long-term care for seniors, particularly those in the low and middle income groups, said Sherman.
Right now, too many hospital beds are filled with seniors who should be under care at home or in long-term care facilities, he said.
Sherman’s prescription for health care also involves putting more emphasis on developing a healthier population, which is where Red Deer has shown remarkable improvement, he told reporters after the presentation.
People die because of long waits at emergency departments in Edmonton, said Sherman. It has become so bad that patients can be flown or driven to Red Deer, treated and returned home in less time than it takes to be seen in Edmonton, he said.
He discussed Red Deer’s status earlier with Mayor Morris Flewwelling.
“Red Deer had major challenges as well. Recently, something changed. Things are on the mend here in Red Deer. You actually do something wonderful here. There’s a lot of prevention, a lot of wellness. Edmonton and Calgary could do more of what Red Deer is doing.”
He credited the mayor and the community with taking action including getting homeless people off the streets and giving children more opportunities to be active, which play roles in keeping people healthier.
“You’re a very smart city here.”
Sherman said he will definitely run in the next election, most likely as an independent, which is where he believes he can have the most impact.
All of the political parties currently active in Alberta have some good things going for them and some other things that are not good, he said.
“My goal is to keep everybody focused on the issue while they do their politics. As an independent member, I will ensure that we don’t drop the ball again.”