StettlerLocal.com June 26, 2021 @ 5:15pm
Health Minister Tyler Shandro spoke as part of the delegation of representatives who marked the completion of the Stettler Hospital & Care Centre's Emergency Department renovations on June 23rd.
After the speeches, and a brief ribbon-cutting at the doors of the new ER entrance, Health Minister Shandro answered a few questions for StettlerLocal.com.
StettlerLocal.com: What do you Feel the long term consequences of COVID-19 are on our healthcare system?
Minister Shandro: “I think it’s 3 ways on our scheduled surgeries. We’re going to be doing everything we can to catch up, and continue to meet our commitment to get our surgical wait times down. The continuing care system. There’s going to be long-term consequences for that. I think we just tabled a report/review of facility-based continuing care. I think we learned a lot from COVID and how we can invest in our continuing care facilities. And the mental Health aspects of it too. Whether we invest in more support for residents in continuing care. Also the folks in the community. To make sure we were providing support for those folks.”
StettlerLocal.com: How is the government recruiting healthcare professionals to rural areas? Is it on-going?
Minister Shandro: “It is ongoing thing. There’s RHPAP. The Rural Health Professions Action Plan. We provide them with stable funding but we just gave them another $6 Million on top of that to help with the recruitment of physicians in particular. When it comes to physicians we’re spending $90 million on recruitment and retention. Right now we only have 700 our of 11,000 doctors who work in rural Alberta. So how do we provide more medical spots for rural students who want to go back and serve in rural areas? That’s part of it, as well as a lot of other initiatives in that $90 million. We took off the cap for the variable fee for the rural and northern program. I know in the Central Zone, Janice (Stewart) is doing hard work to improve vacancies we have for health physicians in rural areas. A lot is being done.”
StettlerLocal.com: In regards to renovations to this level for this area: Is this kind of the norm, or is this the flagship other projects will be similar to?
Minister Shandro: “It is unique because it was a significant investment in doing the emergency room. The rural revitalization fund we announced in 21 is about $15 million. A lot of that is investing in the medical device reprocessing that helps us do not only more but more complex surgeries in rural facilities. So they don’t always have to come to the city to get them done. It may not be as flashy, but lots of really important investments in those rural areas that have been neglected for so long.”
Thank you to Minister Shandro for taking the time for the interview.
Carson Ellis, Reporter