News Stories of Interest, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014

Good afternoon and Happy New Year! In addition to being the first business day of 2014, it’s Armed Forces Victory Day in Cuba and, sensibly, a bank holiday in Scotland. Here in Alberta, well, there were a few health and labour relations stories over the holiday break, most related to an outbreak of H1N1 influenza. Here is a selection of the recent stories of interest to UNA members and staff:

[ ]South Health Campus eases strain on Calgary ERs

Nearly a year after Calgary’s newest emergency department opened at South Health Campus, the ER has provided some breathing room at the city’s other overburdened facilities, particularly during the hectic cold and flu season, health officials say. About 160 patients a day are being seen in the ER, and the facility on Calgary’s southern edge is on track for about 60,000 visits in its first year.

[ ]Flu cases in Alberta on rise, more shots offered

Alberta Health Services is adding more holiday flu immunization clinics in the Edmonton area, while the number of flu cases in the city continues to rise. Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr. Gerry Predy said Tuesday the number of lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Edmonton (as of Dec. 27) had doubled to total of 256 cases – 236 of those are H1N1. Clinics also [ ]opened in Calgary. At Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital, a ward was [ ]closed because of the outbreak.

[ ]Tired nurses more likely to regret decisions

Fatigued nurses are more likely to express concern that they made a wrong decision about a patient’s care, according to a study in the January issue of American Journal of Critical Care.

[ ]Redford Promises health care stability in 2014

Saying Alberta is in the midst of community-wide health and home care “revolution,” Premier Alison Redford promised health care stability and peace of mind for Albertans in a year-end interview with the CBC. And Health Minister Fred Horne [ ]says 2013 was an “excellent year” for health care.

[ ]‘War of 2016’ begins?

Calgary Herald political columnist declares the beginning of the “War of 2016” – with a desperate plea by Redford Conservative fund-raisers to the party’s remaining supporters.

[ ]2013: a lousy year for health care in Sherwood Park

At best, the health care glass was half full in 2013 in Sherwood Park and Strathcona County, a columnist for the Sherwood Park News complains. This year, he wrote, Strathcona County residents will finally have a local place to go for medical treatment at all hours of day – “that is, of course, assuming another monkey wrench isn’t thrown into the mix before the facility’s planned spring opening.”

[ ]Negotiations with AUPE ‘on radar’ for Lukaszuk

Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk hopes to restart negotiations for a new civil service with the indignant Alberta Union of Provincial Employees sometime soon, the Edmonton Sun reports. The word “negotiations” should probably be in quotation marks, since Bill 46 passed late last year effectively dictates the employer’s position.

[ ]New clinic opens for Edmonton residents with hand and wrist injuries

A Fort Saskatchewan “weekend newspaper” with the great name “Over Easy, Please” reports that Edmonton and area residents who have suffered hand and wrist injuries will now have access to more efficient rehabilitation following Alberta Health Service’s restructuring of its hand therapy clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Patients will now be able to see one certified hand specialist for all rehabilitation, a change from the previous scenario where separate appointments with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist were required.

[ ]How to instantly fix heath care in Alberta: commentator

To fix heath care in Alberta and save millions of dollars, the government needs to remove “the staggering weight of a cumbersome, chaotic, dysfunctional and expensive hierarchy” and emphasize front-line services, writes the author of an Edmonton Journal opinion piece, identified as a retired engineer and full-time gardener. Hard to believe he’s gardening today, but there you go. That said, it’s hard to believe most front-line health workers won’t agree with his basic point.

[ ]Taber to get improved heath centre

Alberta Health Services has announced a $9-million project to renovate 2,600 square metres of vacant space at the Taber Health Centre to consolidate health programs located throughout the Southern Alberta town into one area.

[ ]Agencies linked to 2012 patient death ordered to present improvement plans

Health Minister Fred Horne says the medical and regulatory agencies singled out in a scathing report on a Calgary cancer patient’s ill-fated journey through the system must report back early next year with their plans for change. “There is absolutely no excuse for physicians not taking direct responsibility to see that patients get the care they require,” Horne said Friday. “The system clearly failed this patient.” Greg Price, 31, died unexpectedly in May 2012, just days after testicular cancer surgery.

[ ]Calgary doc quits public health system

A prominent Calgary orthopedic surgeon is taking the unusual step of opting out of the public health-care system – a move that will let him charge patients for privately delivered procedures. Dr. Robert Hollinshead is set to become the only Alberta doctor providing patients medically necessary care not paid for by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Some observers may doubt the move by the past president of the Alberta Medical Association is not ideologically motivated. The risks also seem small for Dr. Hollinshead, who is 65.

David Climenhaga
Communications Advisor
United Nurses of Alberta
780-425-1025 (Office)
780-717-2943 (Cellular)

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