Posts Tagged Government of 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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ROAR! I am a patient’s voice hear me ROAR!

ROAR! Yes, that is what I did, that is what Hubby#1 did and that is what we will continue doing over the lack of care and professionalism experienced by Mum.

RAH staff did NOT get her out of bed yesterday despite this being in an agreed recovery plan and despite my INSISTING that they do so. Could not get to the hospital until after 3 PM because of my Saturday Yoga class but she had not been helped out of bed again today and was “sleeping” and not eating. Well DUH!

David went to to the Ward desk and raised holy hell after we spoke to Rosalee (who now has another big black mark next to her name by the nurses on Ward 53). She told us that one nurse was extremely rude to her and thus Mum when Rosalee reiterated my request to get Mum out of bed. Not only that the nurse than proceeded to lie about what was happening with Mum when the Palliative people came around. Except Rosalee wouldn’t let her get away with it, calling her out in front of Palliative Care!

When we arrived and demanded that Mum be helped out of bed we got the same old song, which we know the chorus by heart. “We don’t have enough time or staff. The special chair has gone walkabout (you know there are other patients who need this equipment too… Sorry, we are doing med rounds (left in the room and forgotten about as has happened many times). We are about to start dinner. Your Mum needs to have a BM which is much more important then getting her up and ensuring she can eat! (When Rosalee said that Mum had already had two BMs today the nurse said this was not the case as it was “not in the charts”. To which Rosalee retorted that Mum certainly had because the nurses who had cleaned her up had bitched the second time very loudly and unprofessionally!) Yes, Rosalee is a bundle of tenacity and we are so fortunate for that.

The nurse called me out to the hallway to complain about Rosalee’s “interfering” something I did not appreciate nor did I agree with the nurse.

David has told the Unit Manager that it was not acceptable to not clean up Mum until mid-day, to not get her up (the difference is incredible) nor to talk around her. We do not know how much she understands but she is a human being and deserves respect as such. (Rosalee will not let anyone be negative around her son either, this should be the most basic of nursing but does not appear to be so.)

Found out today that due to shortages (and the closing of the adjacent Ward because of an infection outbreak) that there is a real possibility that another person will be squeezed into an already crowded four-to a room set-up. The room beside Mum’s already has five in it. Um, WHO gets the oxygen of which there are only four outlets? Will the patients have to share? What next, bunk beds?

There is NO room for the medi-lift that is needed to get Mum out of bed as is without the bed having to be angled tightly and everything moved as far away as possible. No better for Rosalee’s son. Across the room is the same except the closets and washbasin is on that side. (The washroom is two feet from Mum’s bed.)

A new Hong Kong Chinese man recovering from a stroke has been moved into the rotating bed. Despite asking for an interpreter (and that the RAH brags that they have interpreters in so many languages) no one had come up to speak to the man and his wife. Indeed, while we were visiting a nurse came up to ask what language they spoke! She assumed Mandarin which the wife confirmed but knowing Hong Kong Chinese people as well as I and David do he asked if they were more comfortable speaking Cantonese (David asked in Mandarin and then switched to Cantonese because my man is excellent in languages, his major at Uni was Asian Studies and his roommate (and the best-man at our wedding is Hong Kong Chinese). The wife was visibly happy to talk to someone. When her husband was brought back into the room after four hours of test in a wheelchair the porter took off with it despite the wife, Rosalee and myself asking for it to be left. His response? Other people may need it… The wife chased him down the corridor and ended up retrieving the wheelchair in front of a random room where it had been abandoned. (Probably beside the bed which has been blocking the door to Ward 53 for days, yep, health and safety standards being met allover.)

Yes, I am POd and bitching all over about the Stroke Ward. I know they are horribly understaffed and do not have anywhere near the equipment needed BUT guess what? I HAVE ONE MIL and will scream for her to get care because she cannot and also, NOTHING is going to change until the damn government stops allowing executives have unlimited expense accounts, until AHS cuts the way too top heavy executive pool (Managers, Directors, Managing Directors, Executive Directors, Senior Managers, Senior Directors, VPs, Executive VPs, Senior VPs and the list goes on and on…). Virtual teams which means one of those VPs may have an assistant in another city necessitating huge conference call bills and travel costs. Also, the AHS CEO needs how many offices? All fully equipped and not only in Edmonton but in Calgary…

NONE of the above gross misuse of TAXPAYERS money improves front-line care but still it goes on and on! Throwing more money at AHS WILL NOT improve patient care (lack thereof) because that is not where the money will go. Wheelchairs, IV Poles. PILLOWS, more qualified and engaged staff and better adherence to infection controls will make a huge difference — saving lives and improving recovery rates but alas with no accountability in the system and because that is not the “sexy” answer this will not happen. Instead, a new specialty ward will be opened as others are closed because that makes it appear that the government is doing something and “cares”.


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GoA planning to reduce or eliminate the Wild Rose Foundation?

Dear friend/colleague & subscriber: friends at the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, have made me aware that (apparently) the Alberta Government plans to either eliminate the Wild Rose Foundation, or reduce its funding even further in the upcoming 2009 budget.

In case you don’t know, the WRF is one of the most (vital) and effective funding sources (and a manifestation of our solitary) for many Alberta based non-governmental organizations, working on international development issues.

There has (also) been speculation that the Wild Rose Foundation will cease to exist. Many of these Alberta NGOs have worked with the Wild Rose Foundation over the years to achieve significant successes and there is concern about the impact the loss of the Foundation could have on local and global projects.

Recently, with funding from the WRF, the Alberta Council for Global Co-operation commissioned Angus Reid Strategies to conduct a poll of over 800 Albertans about global poverty. What they found strongly supports continued funding for organizations like those supported by the Wild Rose Foundation.

I urge you to get in touch with the Alberta Council for Global Co-operation and find out how you can help to prevent such short-sighted decision by the government of Alberta. > / Email:

Most respectfully,

Leo Campos Aldunez, Principal
The Community Networks Group ®

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