Health co-op CEO reflects on first months on the job
Thursday, Mar 23, 2017 06:00 am
The new CEO of the Airdrie and Area Health Benefits Co-operative (AAHBC), Dr. Tom Feasby, said he has spent his first few months on the job meeting with numerous stakeholders and learning about the goals of the health co-op.
“Quite a bit of work had been done before I got here,” Feasby said. “What I found when I got here and started to meet people was that while they were interested in this, a lot of them didn’t know a lot about it and they didn’t feel they had any role in it to that point.
“What I think is really important is to engage with the stakeholders in a meaningful way. What I felt was necessary – and what I was hearing from people – is they wanted to be engaged.”
Feasby said he first went about identifying who the major stakeholders were, including the residents of Airdrie, Alberta Health Services (AHS), Alberta Health and various healthcare providers and foundations.
Feasby said he’s held numerous meetings with stakeholders to ask them about their vision for the health co-op and how they see themselves being involved.
“(I’ve) been reaching out to them and asking them what they would like this to become – in other words, what are the issues? What are the needs…what are the things they like about the current provision of healthcare? What are the things they don’t like? What would they like this to become?” he said.
Feasby said residents will likely be engaged in the process through a variety of means, including public meetings, surveys and more.
“We need people’s ideas, thoughts and desires. We need to know all about that,” he said.
Feasby brings experience in leadership and executive roles in health service design to his new role. He has practiced medicine in the specialty of neurology and conducted significant research. He also brings experience in large-scale organizational administration to his new position with the AAHBC. He has been vice-president of Edmonton’s Capital Health Region, dean of the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and associate dean at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.
The AAHBC – formally incorporated as a co-operative in Alberta in December 2016 – will provide primary and proactive healthcare and emergent/urgent care to residents of Airdrie and area.
Senior healthcare, mental health and addiction services, secondary health such as physiotherapy and acupuncture, as well as dentistry and eyecare, will be offered through the health co-op and membership is free.
“I was impressed with the commitment of those committee members who wanted to do something to improve the health and healthcare of the community. I thought that was a noble quest and I thought there was the opportunity to do something progressive…and might be a model for healthcare elsewhere,” Feasby said.
The AAHBC plans to build a health park where residents can access healthcare in a one-stop shop. The founding members of the board of directors intend to fundraise the money needed to build the health park, since capital funding for a new healthcare facility is not on the province’s books until 2035.
Feasby said part of his role will be determining what services and programs will actually make up the health park, as well as determining how the various healthcare providers could interact to provide the best healthcare to residents.
“It’s easy enough to make a number of parallel moves into a new location…but to build something together that’s better than what we had before, that’s what we need the help with,” he said. “Once we know what we’re going to do…then we can figure out what we need in the health park in terms of the facilities.”
One of the stakeholders could be AHS. According to Feasby, AHS could be a member of the co-op and have one vote at the table, just like any other member. AHS could re-locate urgent care and emergent care to the health park, however.
“All the providers operating within the health park would have to have partnership agreements with the co-op,” he said. “For instance, AHS would run urgent care and we’d have an operating agreement between them and the co-op to determine how that operated. We’d negotiate that and they’d pay lease rates.”
Feasby said he hopes his role is temporary.
“I’m not here for the long haul. I want to get this thing up and going,” he said. “I’m anxious that we move as quickly as possible but we need to give people a chance to respond and get engaged. That takes time.”