A letter to the editor we received from the vice president of Community, Rural and Mental Health with Alberta Health Services (AHS) has left a bad taste in our mouths. (See letter on page 9).
The letter states that AHS is listening to Airdrie residents.
The only reason AHS spoke with residents about health care services at all is because the organization announced the lay off of nurse practitioners in Cochrane and Airdrie last month, causing a public outcry. The decision to let those staff go was later rescinded.
In the letter, Julie Kerr says she was “struck by (Airdrie’s) commitment to work collaboratively to find innovative approaches to improving health-care services at the community level.”
The reasons citizens have come together in this way is because we have no choice. We do not have 24-hour health care, despite having more than 45,000 residents.
We are dedicated to finding solutions because our current situation (a lack of nearby, accessible, 24-hour emergency health care) could cost our friends, family and neighbours their lives.
The second statement we are concerned about in the letter is this: “AHS opened a temporary EMS station on the west side of the city. With EMS operating from two locations, emergency response times have significantly improved.”
This fails to mention that in 2010, when the Province took control of emergency services from the City’s efficient, integrated service, response times increased dramatically.
In March 2011, it was revealed that average ambulance response times increased by about 34 per cent, despite a 12 per cent decrease in call volume.
For Kerr to say the temporary EMS station in west Airdrie decreased response times is an insult to Airdrie residents.
We can only hope Kerr’s statement about reducing bureaucracy and inefficiencies, and producing the best health-care results possible, is at least partially true - but we are not holding our breath.