COLD LAKE – The Cold Lake Best Western Hotel was abuzz with the voices of about 40 concerned Albertans, healthcare professionals, and community leaders as they gathered for a public engagement session hosted by Alberta Health Services (AHS).  

Aimed at addressing healthcare challenges in Cold Lake and across the region, the session provided a platform for attendees to voice their concerns, propose solutions, and actively contribute to shaping the future of healthcare in Alberta. 

The event took place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 7 and kicked off with Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Scott Cyr expressing his gratitude for the impressive turnout, emphasizing the significance of community input in shaping governmental decisions.  

“Wow, what a great turnout. Thank you everybody for coming in and putting in your input,” he said. “This is one of those things that I can take pride in, that we’re actually out there listening to our front lines, our citizens and our municipal leaders.” 

Following Cyr’s opening remarks, Alberta’s Minister of Health, Adriana LaGrange, conveyed her sincere apologies for not being able to attend in person while being shown in a pre-recorded video. She assured attendees that their input would be carefully reviewed.  

LaGrange emphasized the importance of the sessions in dissecting the current healthcare system, identifying its strengths and weaknesses, and exploring avenues for improvement.  

“The future of healthcare really is in your hands,” she said, highlighting the critical role of frontline healthcare workers and community members in driving meaningful change. 

Chris Bordeaux, an executive director with AHS, delved into the many parts of the healthcare landscape, shedding light on the challenges faced by the existing system. Bordeaux outlined the fragmented nature of healthcare delivery and emphasized the need for a more coordinated approach to address pressing issues such as overburdened acute care facilities and long wait times for essential services. 

“There’s just a lot of pressure there that we need to address, which is what we’re hoping to do with the changes that we’re making. So right now, Alberta’s budget – the budget just came out last week – I believe we’re in sort of the $25 billion range for Alberta for healthcare in the province.” He added, AHS gets about $16 billion of that. 

“With a lot of money invested, we know that the outcomes just are not where we need them to be,” Bordeaux explained. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing.”  

He stressed the importance of redirecting resources toward areas of need, empowering healthcare workers, and prioritizing patient care to ensure timely and quality services for all Albertans. 

Bordeaux emphasized the significance of the discussion on Thursday morning, highlighting its role in educating participants about existing issues and potential solutions.  

“What’s happening in the community? What’s happening in Cold Lake today that is valuable and important that we want to try to capture here?” Bordeaux prompted, encouraging attendees to share their insights. 

“And then on the other side of it is what is not working? What can we do to change some of the things that are happening?” he continued, emphasizing the need for constructive dialogue and actionable strategies to address challenges effectively. 

Media was asked to leave during the discussions among the attendees who participated in the session.  

A similar engagement session was held in St. Paul on Thursday afternoon. 

By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 12, 2024 at 13:23

This item reprinted with permission from   Lakeland This Week   Bonnyville, Alberta

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