Clegg’s Corner – Our government “at work” for you

Contrary to popular belief among some, I don’t get pleasure from bringing forth issues of concern. Well, OK, maybe a little bit!

This week I have alarming news for you! I will prove to you how governments make decisions based on politics rather than need. To put it bluntly, decisions made to grease the palms of their friends and buddies wherever the may be.

How else do you explain the latest screw job?

High Prairie and area politicians and community groups have been arguing about the need for renal dialysis service for well over 10 years. Research of the numbers regarding the High Prairie and area’s need for renal dialysis service certainly suggests we are getting – well – screwed!

Let’s follow some history of this issue. Here is a letter written nearly 10 years ago:

“The Northern Alberta Renal Program is not able to commit to the operation of a satellite renal dialysis unit in High Prairie within any defined time frame. NARP does support making provision for a possible future renal service at the High Prairie facility, but has clearly indicated that such a unit could not be operational until sufficient demand exits in the area for this type of service.” – Dave Hancock, Alberta Minster of Health, Nov. 29, 2007.

In short, we have to prove the demand exists. Fair enough!

Well then, consider this. Alberta Health Services issued their own information called Alberta Health Primary Health Care – Community Profiles in March 2015.

Here is what the charts reported for High Prairie, Slave Lake and Lac la Biche areas. The information is alarming!

Rank Rank Rank

Hypertension 25 2 19
Diabetes 30 2 17
Ischemic Heart Disease 21 15 5
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary 1 3 9
NOTE: 132 Local Geographical Areas Included in Report.

High Prairie, unfortunately, ranks far worse in diabetic rates than Slave Lake or Lac la Biche.

Now we need to consider just how bad we rate. See the chart:

Diabetic Rate [Per 100 People]

High Prairie 9.3 69.10% Above AB Avg
Lac la Biche 7.1 29.09% Above AB Avg
Slave Lake 6.6 20.00% Above AB Avg
[Alberta Average is 5.5]

Just to be clear, which area is serving more patients?

Community Population

High Prairie 12,678
Slave Lake 12,031
Lac la Biche 10,934

Yet, High Prairie has not warranted any consideration for renal dialysis treatment, as promised by NARP in Hancock’s 2007 letter. Why these numbers are apparently not good enough for NARP to consider High Prairie for renal dialysis treatment is mind-boggling! Do they not read their own reports? Do they have no clue what they are doing?

Instead, what did NARP do?

On Feb. 1, 2016, NARP and Alberta Health Services announced increased service – for Slave Lake – despite the information at their disposal that High Prairie’s need was higher! Much higher!

That stinks! Pepe Le Pew would be proud!

To add another kick to the groin of High Prairie, last week Lac la Biche was granted increased service, despite all the numbers indicating the need is higher here. The Feb. 22 news release issued by the Alberta government was full of its usual flair.

“Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre means more patients can receive this life-saving treatment in a comfortable setting closer to home,” reads the news release.

The new six-station unit expands patient capacity from 10 to 12. The extra space at each station means family and friends can now accompany patients while they undergo the procedure.

Congratulations to Lac la Biche!

What the hell happened to us?

The news release stated patients complained about service in Lac la Biche. You can go online and read it yourself.

So, the government listens to Lac la Biche but not High Prairie. Is anyone asking why?

We could lay part of the blame on our useless Lesser Slave Lake Health Advisory Council, which did not mention High Prairie’s need for renal dialysis services in their 2015-16 annual report.

But they did mention Wabasca!

Ask chair Ken Matthews, from High Prairie, how that happened!

To their credit, however, they finally saw the light. The squeaky wheel does gets the grease. Matthews writes in the 2016-17 report, “We have also been actively advocating for permanent dialysis services in the High Prairie Health Complex. For future consideration and possible expansion, space has been set aside for a permanent dialysis unit in the new High Prairie Health Complex. Alberta Health Services’ Northern Alberta Renal Program continues to monitor the patient needs in High Prairie and will be reviewing the service need. We, too, will continue to meet with NARP to share our feedback and concerns.”

At least we’re on the radar now!

Maybe the health council isn’t totally useless.

In the meantime, we will have to rely on others such as the town and county councils, First Nations and Metis Settlements, and the citizens themselves, to continue the lobby.

This, people, is a royal screw job, and a slap in the face to the citizens of our region.


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