Getting to the root of and improving on long wait times for EMS, emergency room care, and surgeries across Alberta will now be under the microscope of a newly appointed Official Administrator for Alberta Health Services. Dr. John Cowell, who was previously named AHS Official Administrator in 2013, will replace the 11-person AHS board effective immediately.
“I am ready to get to work on behalf of Albertans, building a better system to support patients needing care. I look forward to working with the AHS team and taking tangible actions to drive much-needed change,” Dr. Cowell says.
The province says in addition to steps that include bringing in additional health professionals to improve on-site patient care and management in hospitals, the expectations on Cowell include finding solutions to fast-track ambulance transfers at emergency rooms so paramedics are available for more calls, and empower EMS dispatch to step-down calls from 911 to Health Link based on patient need.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says while the province has the best front-line healthcare workers in the world, the government must work to have the right support in place to ensure Albertans get the care they need when and where they need it.
“Patients are waiting too long across our health system, despite the excellent work of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other front-line staff,” Smith says. “We need more-urgent action to improve access. Albertans want accountability within AHS and they want to know that a world-class health system and level of care is available when they need it.”
It’s believed Cowell’s first report back to the government will come within 90 days.