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December 3, 2013

Provincial MS Strategy Applauded

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A provincial multiple sclerosis (MS) patient strategy, the first of its kind in Canada, is expected to be of great benefit to central Albertans.

In the Lacombe and Red Deer area, the number of those diagnosed with MS is higher than the provincial average, and that number is even larger in many areas of rural Alberta.

Announced Nov. 25, Health Minister Fred Horne said the strategy – The Way Forward - "connects the dots" in the health care system so that Alberta’s almost 14,000 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients can access resources and find supports more easily.

Alberta has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, with roughly 340 cases per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 240 cases per 100,000.

Former Lacombe mayor and MLA Judy Gordon, who herself has had MS for the past 15 years is a board member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. She said the strategy reaches beyond patient care and also into social services.

“A lot of MS patients need not only the services of Alberta Health, but they also might need to talk about housing with Municipal Affairs, they might need to talk about disability funding, care giving, all of these things. Sometimes it’s hard to work your way through the system,” said Gordon.

“We are hoping that we can bring together a GPS system where navigation is a little easier.”

Gordon said along with this is the encouragement of MS sufferers to be more involved in self-management.

“There are a number of sites they can access in terms of care and services and we want to help them along with self management” she said.

“The largest area with the greatest prevalence of MS is east of Lacombe. A lot of these communities are in rural Alberta.”

In particular, Gordon said, the strategy will help MS patients living in rural Alberta "where it’s difficult for them to access services such as a neurologist."

Click here to read the full article written by Vince Burke for the Lacobe Gazette

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