Cracks showing in health care, says Swann

The “cracks” in Alberta’s health-care system will gape open this winter as the flu season — including the H1N1 virus — begins, says Alberta Liberal leader David Swann.

Dr. David Swan addresses a seniors health forum at the Golden Circle

The “cracks” in Alberta’s health-care system will gape open this winter as the flu season — including the H1N1 virus — begins, says Alberta Liberal leader David Swann.

“We’ll be seeing in the next few months, especially with winter and flus and the kind of extra demands that come on the system, we’ll be seeing the cracks much more severely.

“And I think we’ll be hearing more from people who are being seriously affected,” said Swann before leading a seniors’ town hall meeting on health care at the Golden Circle Monday night that attracted about 60 people.

He said health care has been in “crisis mode” ever since government’s third “re-disorganization” of the system in the last 15 years.

Administration is confused and frustrated. On the front line, workers are stressed, demoralized, unable to do their job as they believe they should, face gag orders and now a proposed wage freeze.

Swann said it’s bizarre having a health-care system in place that is only focused on cutting costs, and has actually increased costs by transitioning to a new system.

After hosting 10 similar meetings around the province, Swann said there’s already a lot of public anger and frustration because of the wait times to get care.

“We’re going to get more complications, more preventable deaths, more poor outcomes,” said Swann, a former family physician and public health consultant.

Liberals are hosting the town hall meetings to find out the public’s concerns and their ideas to solve what ails the health care system.

Some of the problems identified by the Red Deer crowd were the delisting of chiropractic care, the elimination of local hospital boards, government’s lack of transparency in its plans for health care, not making use of nurse health-care practitioners, and the privatization of long term care and assisted living.

Roseanne Martyniuk, of Red Deer, said her parents, who are in a private assisted living facility, are “nickeled, and dimed to death.”

“I believe by the time I get there, I won’t be able to afford it,” Martyniuk said.

Swann said the question of seniors care and how much should be publicly funded and how much should be privately funded has simply not been asked by government.

“That’s a discussion that we haven’t had in this province.”

Swann said it’s time to get back to basics by providing seniors with the long term care they deserve, proper home care service so they can stay in the community, enough family doctors to serve the public and more emphasis on prevention programs.

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