ALS service tripped up on invisible border

By Geoff Lee

January 14, 2016 9:45 AM

Dr. Raffath Sayeed, left, Lloydminster MLA Colleen Young, and Saskatchewan Minister of Rural Health Greg Ottenbreit listen to senior Graham Brown talk about the need for advanced life support paramedics in Lloydminster during a meeting Tuesday at Prairie North Health Region.

Lloydminster is sick of being short-changed on a variety of healthcare issues — not the least of which is advanced paramedic care — because it’s a bi-provincial city.
That was the main point made by members of the Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care in a Tuesday meeting with the Saskatchewan minister of Rural Health, Greg Ottenbreit.
“It’s pretty much my feeling that Lloydminster and area has been pretty much short-changed in the health care issue from pretty well any standpoint that you can think of,” said Len Pryor, vice-chair of the seniors’ group.
Pryor said issues such as paramedic care, seniors care and healthcare in general are unsettled between Alberta and Saskatchewan.
He told Ottenbreit he believes the bi-provincial committee set up in 2014 to negotiate and iron out differences in healthcare isn’t working.
“I think there’s been a real lack of activity here,” said Pyror.
“There is a lot of work for them to do and nothing is happening.”
Ottenbreit met with the seniors care society following the opening of the Prairie North Health Centre with an open-ended agenda on health issues, led by paramedic care.
He met later in the day with WPD Ambulance that provides EMT ambulance service in the Border City.
Prairie North Health Region and Alberta Health Services are working together to sign advanced life support paramedic contracts with WPD for the entire city.
Ottenbreit said the stumbling block is not money but the different jurisdictions involved.
“You have two provinces and you have two colleges of paramedics, one in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan and the health region in Saskatchewan which overlooks Lloydminster,” he said.
He said multi-jurisdictions and multi -regulatory agencies all have some input.
“It does pose a lot of challenges, but I believe we are going to come to some success there.”
Senior Graham Brown, who chaired the meeting, said Ottenbreit will go away with a lot better understanding of what Lloydminster people think and why they are so passionate about the issues.
“Now I guess it’s for us to see if something comes from it,” said Brown.
“I think the one thing he could do to show his commitment to this town now is to get this ambulance thing fixed.
“He’s meeting with them now. Let’s see it fixed.”
Ottenbreit said it’s just a matter of getting the different groups talking in the same language with the same vision.
“It sounds like it’s coming to that point,” he said.
“I am very confident we’re going to see more productive and positive things coming in the future.”
Ottenbreit told the meeting when it comes to ambulance service, PNHR is in favour of moving things ahead, as is Alberta Health.
“Where I see the bottleneck right now is their specific regulatory agencies and their colleges,” he said.
“It looks like the (paramedic) college in Saskatchewan is very open to it but from what I’ve seen the college in Alberta may be holding things up a little bit.”
Ottenbreit said he recognizes the need for increased ambulance service in Lloydminster with the same advanced care paramedic service offered in North Battleford and Vermilion.
“It’s the uniqueness of somewhere like Lloydminster that poses the challenges — it seems to take longer,” he said.
Senior Bill Till said he feels the bi-provincial committee has done a good job of defining the Border City as one zone for seamless healthcare.
“We feel we should have the same ambulance service as being provided to North Battleford,” said Till.“We’re not asking for anything extra over and above what an equivalent community is getting (and) that’s the stance our senior citizens’ society is taking.”
The seniors care society will hold a news conference on Tuesday at the Legacy Centre on their proposals for the re-purposing of the Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre addressed to Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

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