Results will be used to lobby government, says MLA

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Resident input gathered through a new online survey will be used to lobby the provincial government to improve rural health- care service in the region, says Wildrose MLA Nathan Cooper.

The survey is being conducted by the official Opposition at www.wildrosecaucus.ca/shareyourstory.

It calls on respondents to: “Tell us your story about accessing the Alberta health-care system.”

Other survey questions include: “Have you had any of the following experiences while accessing the Alberta health-care system: Forced to pay out of pocket? Unacceptable wait times? Trouble accessing a specialist? Poor quality of care? Queue jumping?”

Another question asks: “What suggestions do you have to improve our health-care system?”

Feedback from residents will hopefully lead to improved service in areas such as wait times and ambulance response times, Cooper told the Gazette.

“This survey will allow Albertans to provide input on their health story, and not only input but also solutions and areas of concern that they think could make the system significantly better,” said Cooper, the MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.

“There’s a real disconnect between rural Alberta and urban Alberta when it comes to health care. We hope to use the information to find some solutions and put those forward to the government, as well as highlight areas of concern that Albertans have.”

Many of his constituents have told him in recent months that they have ongoing concerns with health-care service availability, he said.

“I’ve been hearing more and more from them about this,” he said. “So I think now is a good time to respond to those concerns and provide people with an avenue to provide feedback.

“I hear from constituents consistently about not hearing back from the government, about not being pleased with the direction that they are taking in terms of centralization of power into Edmonton.

“To date, generally speaking, people have told me that they have significant concerns regarding wait times, rural access to service, and rural ambulance response times,” he said.

Specifically, Cooper says concerns raised by constituents include “the closure of the cardiac care program in Didsbury” and “the need for more seniors’ housing in order to free up long-term care beds and avoid increases in divorce-by-nursing-home situations.”

For her part, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says an agreement recently signed by Alberta Health and Alberta’s doctors will improve access to health care across the province.

“This agreement marks a renewed relationship based on trust and collaboration between government and the AMA (Alberta Medical Association) as we work together to deliver high quality health care that is affordable and sustainable,” Hoffman said in a press release.

“The Physician Resource Plan is an example of the commitment to patient care and innovation that we share with the AMA and all of its members as stewards of our health system.”

“There’s a real disconnect between rural Alberta and urban Alberta when it comes to health care. We hope to use the information to find some solutions and put those forward to the government. Nathan CooperMLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.