Health agreement to be signed next week


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July 22, 2014 8:05 AM

It’s been talked about for years, officially worked on since early last year and will finally be signed next week.

There are a couple of components to the bi-provincial health agreement and it’s touted as being critical to how health care will be delivered in the Border City going forward.

The agreement was made after a working group was created and challenged with looking at health demands in Lloydminster and identify the catchment area it serviced.

Here’s a timeline of how this agreement has come into affect:

April, 2013

An official health summit was held this month, which brought provincial counter parts together to review the health services delivery in Lloydminster, as well as the funding relationship between Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Despite huge increases in population, which puts a lot of pressure on health services, only marginal increases were seen in budgets from both provinces that year.

There were a number of notable outcomes from this meeting, including that the bi-provincial health care delivery challenges for the region were shared with ministry officials, the working group concluded it’s important to develop a single, integrated health services plan for Lloydminster and its surrounding area, and the current operating agreement needs to be re-developed and reviewed.

In short, the group wanted to look at who the Prairie North Health Region should report to and would lay out who pays for what and to what extent.

It was expected at this time that a document would be ready by the end of 2013.

May, 2013

A follow-up meeting was held in April 30, 2013, where terms of reference for a working group were refined and finalized.

While trying to balance its budget in May, Prairie North Health Region CEO David Fan said it’s not easy to work with the minimal funding, while keeping everything going and finding additional funds to address must-do items.

At this time, Fan said he expected additional funds would be brought to the health authority through the working group process.

November, 2013

Early results from the bi-provincial working group suggested that the Border City will need four operating rooms, double what was currently being housed at the Lloydminster Hospital.

This isn’t the first peek into what the report would recommend, as seniors needs in regards to long-term care, acute care and community healths services were also previously discussed.

“That health plan is very critical to us going forward in terms of serving a population,” Fan said at the time.

It is also noted at this time that the agreement would not only include a health services plan for Lloydminster, but the operating agreement would also be looked at, laying out the type of health services that would be needed to service the region’s population — which sits at 72,000 — over the next five, 10 and 15 years.

A piece on capital infrastructure needs was also identified at this time.

Timeline for the report was extended into 2014.

March, 2014

After more than a year of work, the first official announcement of results coming from the working group was released during a public presentation made to Lloydminster city council.

The group had developed an integrated health services plan, a renewed health services agreement between Alberta Health Services and the Prairie North Regional Health Authority and an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two provinces.

All three were presented to the health ministries of Alberta and Saskatchewan for final approval, which was expected to happen this spring.

Some quick wins that came from this meeting included that the group identified there was a 44-bed deficit in long-term care and there were deficiencies relating to physician licencing, access to Alberta Netcare and EMS protocols.

It was also noted at this time that there would be $3.1 million of funding adjustments given from Alberta Health Services to Prairie North — $2 million for base operational costs and $1.1 million as a one-time increase for capital costs and equipment.

The full scope of the highly-anticipated agreements should be released next week.

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