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September 12, 2013

Alberta Health Services Moves Administration into North and South Sectors Centred Around Edmonton and Calgary

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By Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Hearld. 

Alberta doctor representatives are questioning whether rural communities will be shut out from decision-making as Alberta Health Services moves administration into north and south “sectors” centred around Edmonton and Calgary.

Dr. Kevin Hay, president of the Central Zone Medical Staff Association, said he’s concerned the changes announced by government this week amount to “an assault on rural medicine in Alberta.”

“It’s a major administrative change and has a disastrous effect for rural representation,” said Hay, a Wainwright family doctor.

“You change administration, offices, people to contact. Yet again, this is away to disengage people from involvement.”

Dr. Fredrykka Rinaldi, president of the South Zone Medical Staff Association, said the move came with little notice and is already creating unrest in rural medical circles where some physicians fear getting shouldered aside by Calgary and Edmonton health priorities.

“It just leaves you a smaller fish in a bigger pond,” said the Medicine Hat family doctor.

“We just see it as a further potential disenfranchisement.”

But AHS chief executive Dr. Chris Eagle said the changes are meant to do the opposite — give rural Alberta a voice on big health-care decisions that it didn’t have before.

As part of its response to an AHS governance report released earlier this week, the authority said it is creating two north and south management areas — dubbed “sectors” — that are each led by a vice-president, chief operating officer and a medical director and that will absorb the existing five zones.

“Part of the reason we’ve gone this route, we just don’t think we hear enough from the rural areas. The north and south sectors are going to be tasked to be very, very sensitive to the needs of rural areas,” Eagle said on Wednesday.

“We have the ongoing pressure to be efficient administratively and we have the ongoing pressure to be much more sensitive to the needs of our communities and stakeholders. We hope this model will work to do that,” he said.

Click here to read the full article published by the Edmonton Journal.

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