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Local health districts coming back to Alberta

Seven years after centralizing health care in Alberta, the province is decentralizing the system.

Eight to 10 health districts will be created by this summer, that will have volunteer boards make decisions locally.

Health Minister Stephen Mandel says the district’s will be better equipped to integrate and focus on smaller, more remote communities.

“For example, if a community is small and they’re having a tough time finding a doctor, it will be the responsibility of the district to see how they’re going to help getting people into those communities to function and be supportive of the health care.”

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Alberta Health Services President and CEO Vickie Kaminski adds they’ll be able to give input on issues like resource allocation, but some decisions like major capital projects and new technology will still be done centrally.

Before 2008 the province had 9 health authorities that were cut down to one by then Premier Ed Stelmach in what was called a cost saving measure.

Another one of the recommendations coming out of the Rural Health Services Review Committee’s final report is the development of a provincial EMS service delivery model.

Kaminski says part of that is not having rural EMS workers spend excessive time in health care facilities.

“Our goal is to put in place some supports within our emergency departments that would allow rural ambulances to offload the patient […] to allow the rural ambulance then to get back in to its community to be responsive to the 9-1-1 calls.”

AHS has already reached out to groups for recommendations, and a solid plan from those is expected in the next four to five months.

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