Posts Tagged Alberta

My problem(s)/concerns with AHS and PCNs

My problems/concerns with AHS and PCNs

How I “continue” to love Alberta Health SERVICESin no way. How I miss Alberta Health CARE!

Finally received “official” word that the specialist I HAD been seeing will not accept me back as a patient as it has been over a year since I needed their services and my GP is NOT ALLOWED to refer me to them! For Crying Out Loud (FCOL). I knew that when I first was referred to them that the office would not communicate with my GPs office (tried to tell my GPs nurses that there was no way I could be accepted as a patient, blah, blah, blah). In typical “Debbie” fashion, I called BS and as I had already booked and had an appointment confirmed I ignored the stupidity of the call. I went at least a dozen times and had a good rapport/trusted the Doctor but was feeling better and felt my Family Physician could manage my chronic condition.

About eight months ago I determined to take a more active approach to my chronic condition in discussion with my GP (of over 20+ years and who I trust explicitly) I tried to call and book an appointment. No answer, I tried several more times, again no call-back’s. (Now, I could be humble and pretend that I don’t leave great Voice Mail’s but that is not true, I leave ALL relevant details INCLUDING in this case that I WAS A PATIENT, my name and numbers at least twice during the call, at the start and at the end of the call.)

During my annual physical (in September), I asked my GP to try. After three months of trying with no response, they have finally concluded that there was never going to be a response and are now trying to get me into another specialist.

Yep, I have to start all over again with a NEW specialist IF my doctor can get me in to see one. Great, just what I want to do is to start at the beginning after ten plus years of this disorder.

So how did I get in to see the specialist in the first place? Hubby#1’s GP referred me. He knew about my condition and that I was trying to find a specialist (my GP could not find another specialist after my original one retired) and knew of a new-ish specialist who was setting up their practice and was taking on new patients.

Here is the kicker, Hubby#1’s doctor is in charge of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Family Clinic, which is a teaching facility. (David’s original doctor has moved on as an Assistant Dean of Medicine at the University of Alberta Hospital, also a teaching hospital.) Thus, these doctors are aware of good and new to the profession specialists . It was David’s first doctor who I really like who referred me to my GP (because I wanted a female GP.) Because of Hubby#1’s health issues and because David is a man (thus negligent in regular annuals and such) I have had a lot of contact with his GPs.

So what is the problem with my GP? She is not part of a Primary Care Network (PCN), she is one of the very few family doctors who still has a private practice in Alberta. Now PCNs were “supposedly” set up to address the very real issue of Albertans not having family doctors. I write supposedly because the insidious side of PCNs (and I assume the “new” Alberta Health Services (AHS) initiative Family Care Clinics) are that for Albertans like me WHO HAVE FAMILY DOCTORS who are not part of a PCN they act as gatekeepers to keep Albertans AWAY from THEIR specialists.

I cannot understand how/why Primary Care Networks HAVE specialists such as the type I am trying to access? This specialty is along the line of Neurologists (which “thankfully” I have a good one who will continue to see me for issues leftover from my last concussion), so nothing to do with PRIMARY CARE.

I have MAJOR issues with professionals (so-called) who do not have the courtesy to respond to phone calls or letters. Moreover, I have MAJOR, MAJOR problems with being denied access to HEALTH CARE I need.

I copied and pasted this from one of the Edmonton PCNs websites tonight, Read it and you will see that they make it very clear that PCN only patients (doctors) can access “their” doctors. (Ignore the missing word/typo, which I have corrected in brackets.)

Access to the PCN’s services is only available (to) the patients of family physicians who are members of the Network.

Wow, so much stinks in this whole situation. When I first went to see the specialist, the booking clerk tried to put the “hard word” on me to get ME to convince my GP to join their PCN. I thought no-freaking way but simply gave no response.

In addition, what about me, you know the PATIENT aka a PERSON or a HUMAN BEING well, I am the one suffering and the one who has NO IDEA if I will ever get to see a doctor in the speciality I require!

Yes, I have problems and concerns with AHS and PCNs and sadly my untenable “options”. Those options are to have David’s GP try to refer me again. Try my “luck” with whomever my GP MAY be able to refer me to, remember she had no luck several years ago. Find a GP within the PCN that the specialist I want to access is part of (NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN) or not take positive and healthy charge of my disorder by not trying to see a specialist.

Yes, I have options…


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Warning: Waste of money and incomprehensible government/bureaucratic rules rant

Warning waste of money and incomprehensible government/bureaucratic rules rant coming up:

1) I am off to see my GP this afternoon. Not an issue normally as I trust her and require quarterly checkups anyway except today, the visit is for the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). For my right shoulder, the shoulder I broke May 25, 2011. For the shoulder, that I (begged) asked for proper assessment and treatment during the two-month recovery time WCB “allowed” me.

Asked to be assessed by “their” specialists. Denied.

Asked to be referred to the WCBs Millard Centre special shoulder treatment program. Denied.

Asked to be allowed to use the Millard Centre’s rehabilitation (warm) pool. Denied. (My WCB case manager said that she could not refer me to this. Huh? Then who could?)

Asked to have my file continued so I could have more physiotherapy and treatment. Initially denied. Was finally allowed an extra 10 sessions. My file was then closed.

In September 2013 and then October 2013, I received a letter stating that my case was under review and I needed to provide information and detail what specialists I had seen since my WCB file was CLOSED. Um, how is it that WCB does not understand (but everyone else does) that NO doctor/specialist will look/assess my shoulder once they realize that it is a WCB case?

Therefore, I received a letter last week (based on my response) advising that I needed to be seen by my GP before WCB would refer me to specialists or authorize testing (MRI). Not the orthopedist that handled my case but my family doctor who despite being fantastic is not an orthopedic specialist nor has she been involved in my shoulder case beyond my reporting that I had broken it…

What a waste of time, effort and money. My GP will likely send me for X-rays and perhaps an MRI (any guesses how long that wait will be), send her notes to WCB who will then decide on what action (if any) they will take.

Any guesses how much longer this will take? Anyone think this will help my shoulder and me in a “timely manner”?

2) After more than a year I need the care of a specialist that I have seen numerous times (but not without hurdles in the beginning). I MUST  be “referred” to them again. Except they will not accept referrals from my GP and have not returned my repeated calls to book an appointment.

The specialist is part of Alberta Health Services (AHS) wonderful “one solution for everyone, we will fit the circle into that square peg PCNs”. My GP is a rare breed in Alberta, a sole practitioner. I fail to see why a PRIMARY CARE NETWORK (PCN) has specialists (of which there are few, especially ones taking new patients, and are decent)? How is this PRIMARY CARE?

Furthermore, how DARE a PCN deny retaking on a patient that was already on their books??? For the record when I made the initial appointment and then asked my GP to send over relevant records the specialist’s booking clerk told my doctor’s nurse they would not take me on BECAUSE MY GP WAS NOT PART OF THIS PCN!

I called BS, already had an appointment booked so went to this appointment and many others. I also called BS when the managers of the PCN tried to get me to convince my GP to join them! FCOL. I am a patient in need of care NOT a fritizin sales person and this STUNK TO HIGH HELL! There was no cohesiveness in my care though because my GP had trouble getting records of what treatments and medications the specialist had prescribed. Hrumph!

How did I get this specialists name and “referral”? Hubby#1’s GP passed the recommendation and introduction along because this GP is head of the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) Family Care Centre and teacher at the RAH/UAH. Therefore, I snuck around the gatekeepers due to his doctor’s pull. So much for equal treatment and care in Alberta!

Now I am faced with having to get David’s doctor to intro me again, attempt to find another specialist (who is decent and taking patients, yeah…) or I need to keep being a pain in the butt.

Pain in the PCN and WCB butts it is!

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I am proud…

The end of a year, decade or millennium like the end of a life is a natural time for reflection. There are “best of” and “worst of” and “bucket” lists galore and I could join that but let’s face it I have always been a maverick so I am going to do a what “I am proud” of  list.

Also, when it comes to bucket lists to be honest I have been fortunate to have accomplished many of the things that people put on such lists. I have been in a helicopter (several times), I have been around the world many, many times, lived in other countries, dived reefs and wrecks, flown in corporate jets, flown first class, skinny-dipped (unless my Dad is reading this and then no, I have never skinny-dipped), been on private South Pacific islands, dipped my toes in the majority of the oceans and seas, attempted rock climbing (apology to Hubby #1 because I was a lousy and incompetent spotter) and such a list could go on. Hey, I was even a debutante (yeah Deb was a Deb!) but that is another story.

I am proud…

I am proud that despite my Mom dying when I was only twenty-one we had become friends.

I am proud that in spite of the shock of my Mom dying so suddenly I had the strength to convince my Dad to allow them to harvest her corneas so her death could help someone else.

I am proud that I have a great relationship with my Dad and that he has always been there for me.

I am proud to be the daughter of such great, loving parents.

I am proud to have realized that I very much like my paternal grandmother, a fighter who never gave up despite very tough times and always did everything with cheerfulness and grace. I only hope I am half the woman she was. * Editors Note: I will write my Dad’s Mom’s story one day as she was an amazing woman who brought up three sons during the 1940’s all by herself, lost her Canadian citizenship when she married my Dad’s father (despite being born in Canada and having never left the country) was handicapped but never let that stop her and was always so proud to introduce her family to her friends.

I am proud that I am also very much like my maternal grandmother, a woman who despite having handfuls of children always had room in her home, at her table and most strikingly in her heart for more.

I am proud that despite the usual sibling bickering, rivalry and teasing I have a sister who is also a friend and is someone I would choose as a friend even if she wasn’t my sister.

I am proud that I married the love of my life and that twenty-two plus years later I love him more each day.

I am proud to be a wife, best friend and lover to such a magnificent man.

I am proud that I have a loving relationship with “Mom” (the in-law part being superfluous), that she loves me and I her.

I am proud that I have family and friends who have known me since I was a baby or through the years and that so many are still shining beacons in my life.

I am proud I have donated blood twenty times despite being on a “special list” due to contracting Malaria.

I am proud that I am on the formerly entitled “Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry” (now called OneMatch) and that when I was a match I was able to potentially help someone I would never meet.

I am proud to have signed both my drivers’ license and to carry an organ donor card so hopefully when I die (not too soon though) that others may be helped.

I am proud that I have two well trained (usually!) beautiful Golden Retrievers.

I am proud that animals especially dogs and parrots have and will always have a place in our home.

I am proud to say that love of reading and life-long learning (literacy) was the best gift my parents ever gave me and that I have tried to impart that love on to others including being a mentor with Project Adult Literacy Society (PALS).

I am proud to say I have been an “in-school” mentor through Big Brothers and Big Sisters for several years.

I am proud that the simple handwritten card from my first mentee that says “Thank You Debra for being my Friend” still makes me well up with pride and happiness.

I am proud that I have been a long time volunteer with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) and that so many people have trusted me with the most horrible aspects of their lives and that I could provide comfort, advice or just a non-judgmental ear.

I am proud that every job I have ever had was always more than a job to me. That work has always been a passion and that every place I ever worked was always my favourite. Until the next one!

I am proud that at forty I returned to post-secondary full-time to pursue my dreams in MacEwan’s Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing (PROW).

I am proud that when I returned to school I never shirked on my volunteer passions and indeed took on more.

I am proud that I was on the Students’ Association in my second year of MacEwan and despite having been married longer than many of my fellow councillors had been alive I was accepted and active on Council.

I am proud that despite the seemingly endless obstacles I graduated! (I am also secretly proud that I received such high marks including A+’s during my studies because I am competitive!)

I am proud that I have always voted in every election as yes, one vote makes a difference.

I am proud that I am an engaged and active citizen because that is the only way to affect change.

I am proud to call some local politicians friends. Do not have to agree with all government decisions (and seldom do) but being aware is essential.

I am proud to be Canadian because I have lived in other countries and have travelled the world and I truly know this is the best country there is (it is not perfect but we are a free and democratic country where I can speak about what I don’t like without fear of reprisals).

I am proud that a former colleague and friend invited me to her citizenship ceremony. Every Canadian should attend one to appreciate the sacrifices of those who come to this country and to value the profoundness of this event to those who choose to be Canadian!

I am proud to be an Albertan. Might have been born elsewhere but this province is in my blood.

I am proud that both sides of Dad’s parents were original settlers of Bardo, Alberta that they shaped a part of this province.

I am proud to say that I am an Edmontonian by love and by choice.

I am proud (and saddened and humbled) to say I was here on that horrible day on July 31, 1987 when Edmonton showed why we ARE a city of champions. Black Friday was a horrific disaster for Edmonton but we stood up, helped our neighbours, grieved and then went on like champions.

I am proud that I have been a (small) part of some of the events that have shaped Edmonton including the city’s 100th centenary (October 08, 2004) celebration planning.

I am proud to be part of the Edmonton EXPO 2017 group that is attempting to bring a World’s Fair to this great city in 2017 because win or lose it shows the character and spunk of this city I proudly call home!

I am proud to say that my Uncle, Milton Jevning, has a park named after him in North Edmonton and that according to former city Councillor Allan Bolstad was the first “regular” person to have such an honour bestowed in Edmonton! Milton Jevning Park is located at 10524C Lauderdale Road NW and was dedicated to my Uncle Milton on April 10, 1996 (Edmonton City Park Names). Uncle Milton received this tribute because of his outstanding volunteerism and for being a great neighbour!

I am proud that I live in a place where I have such great neighbours that when my husband was ill this last summer several of them pitched in to help with the yard duties.

I am proud that my great community includes people from all sorts of backgrounds, religions and countries and yet we live in peace.

I am proud of the twenty-year old oak tree in my backyard. A tree that was started from an acorn brought back from East Germany from my now deceased German neighbour when the Berlin Wall was finally brought down.

I am proud to be a mentor in both professional and personal relationships.

I am proud of being a woman and respect the privilege and responsibility that being female is at this point in humankind.

I am proud that no matter the situation I have never compromised my integrity.

I am proud that despite the tons of lemons that life has handed me that I have always continued to keep making lemonade (or lemon tarts, lemon meringue, lemon cake, lemon chicken…).

I am extremely proud of being a survivor. It matters not what I am a survivor of. “While I don’t expect a parade, and it is hardly an accomplishment I can put on my resumé, it is an honour, and it is one accomplishment I am most proud of” (Ward 36-38).

Works Cited

“City of Edmonton:: Alphabetical Park Listing.” City of Edmonton: n.d. Home. Web. 30 Dec. 2009. <;.

Ward, Debra L. “Rape: An Ugly Word – A Four-letter Word.” MacEwan: The Basement Oct. 2004: 36-38. Print.

Annotation: MacEwan’s Professional Writing students’ and faculty edit and publish a magazine (usually) every semester. The actual title of the magazine varies. For example this semester was entitled “The Basement” and the next semester was called “The Attic”.

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Goggle Cache has a LONG memory

Goggle Cache has a LONG memory!

I was doing research on some Edmonton matters that included health and politics, two of my favourite topics!

I was surprised to find this David Eggen

I was quite surprised to see Mr. Eggen described as David Eggen Alberta NDP, MLA Edmonton-Calder seeing as Mr. Doug Elnski has been the Edmonton-Calder MLA since March 2008 and as a long-time constituent of Edmonton-Calder I keep up with who represents me in the Alberta Legislature!

Eggen has been with Friends of Medicare since he lost his one-term to Mr. Elniksi on March 03, 2008.

Something to keep in mind…

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