Ombudsman wants fairness

Alberta Ombudsman Gord Button is insisting the province’s Out-of-Country Health Services Appeal Panel re-examine funding requests from two Red Deer families.

Alberta Ombudsman Gord Button is insisting the province’s Out-of-Country Health Services Appeal Panel re-examine funding requests from two Red Deer families.

Last week, the Ombudsman released his report Prescriptions for Fairness with 53 recommendations to improve the quality and fairness of decisions, and redress four applicants who were treated unfairly in the past.

One of the recommendations was that the appeal panel re-hear four cases, including a Red Deer mother who took her twin toddlers to Chicago for help with their severe sleeping disorder in 2005 and a Red Deer woman who had lung cancer surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2003.

“Administrative errors were made by the appeal panel, and Albertans should not be the ones to suffer as a result. I expect the appeal panel to provide suitable redress in each of these cases,” Button said during the press conference held last week.

Emerald Raho, of Red Deer, took her twins, Nicole and Denise, to the United States when they faced a two-year wait just to undergo a sleep study in Canada, with no one to treat them afterwards.

Due to a genetic condition, the part of their brains that regulated sleep was not developed and caused the girls to use the rhythm of “head banging” to put themselves back to sleep. But the banging would also keep them awake so they weren’t getting the sleep they needed for their brains to develop and rectify the problem.

Within three weeks of seeing a specialist in Chicago in July 2005, her babies were sleeping.

Seven months later, Raho filed a $7,000 claim with the Out-of-Country Health Services Committee, to cover the cost of flights to Chicago and the sleep study. The committed denied the claim saying it was available in Canada, but would not tell Raho who was capable of treating her twins.

Lynn Clark, of Red Deer, was denied $100,000 in funding for lung cancer surgery performed at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2003.

After about 10 months of radiation and chemotherapy, her doctors in Red Deer and Edmonton recommended she go to the U.S. because there was nothing more that could be done in Canada.

Even though she succumbed to the disease a year later at age 64, she was able to remain active in the community and started a cancer support group that still runs today.

The committee denied her claim twice saying other treatment was available in Canada and that the surgery “wasn’t supported in general” by the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons. Meanwhile, all three of her doctors, including the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, were members of the thoracic association.

Like Raho, the committee would not say what treatment was available.

Her appeal was also denied.

Button’s report is based on an investigation announced in December after applicants were denied funding by the committee or panel without a clear explanation as to what evidence was considered and what criteria were used.

In many cases, the committee and panel determined services were available within Canada, but did not explain how they reached that conclusion, including what is considered a reasonable wait time for health services in question.

Button’s recommendations include giving applicants complete disclosure of the decision, and that physicians and dentists should complete and submit applications for funding on behalf of Albertans, with supporting documentation from specialists.

Button said physicians and dentists are best positioned to gather and present information on the availability of treatment and wait times.

The Ombudsman has asked that both Minister of Health Ron Liepert and the appeal panel respond to his recommendations by July 10.

Members of the Out-of-Country Health Services Committee and its appeal panel are appointed by Alberta Health and Wellness, but decisions are made independently of the minister of health.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Blood donations needed in Central Alberta: Canadian Blood Services

357 donors are needed before Aug. 26 at the Red Deer clinic

Warkentin seeks UCP nomination

Another nominee for Red Deer North

UPDATED: Red Deer air quality risk rated high

Poor air quality and reduced visibility

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Boy, 11, dies after being struck by payloader on southern Alberta ranch

BOW ISLAND, Alta. — A boy has died after an accident on… Continue reading

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government wants to establish a holiday to… Continue reading

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

FREDERICTON — Thousands of police officers and first responders from across the… Continue reading

B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of… Continue reading

As service refusals make headlines, experts say businesses usually in the wrong

Two Canadian businesses that recently made headlines for refusing customers have learned… Continue reading

Irregular asylum claims increased in July after two months of decline

OTTAWA — The number of irregular border crossers in Canada went up… Continue reading

Knocking down statues no way to address a troubled history, McKenna says

OTTAWA — The minister responsible for Parks Canada says tearing down statues… Continue reading

Turning on Trump doesn’t buy credibility for black Americans

WASHINGTON — For years, Omarosa Manigault Newman stood at Donald Trump’s side,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month