Parks will be meeting with Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health and MLA for Red Deer-North, previously seen in the city today for another announcement regarding the opening of a new public health dental clinic.
READ: Red Deer becomes home of third public health dental clinic in province
Parks says the tour began last week in Edmonton and he believes he will see two common themes between hospital centres across the province: family medicine and overcrowding in hospital emergency departments.
Regarding family medicine, Parks says they are the foundation and heart of primary care. However, he states provincial funding models are not making these small businesses worthwhile for practitioners.
“We have to really change that quickly so that we can kind of stem the bleeding of physicians leaving Alberta and that we can be a place to really strongly recruit and be enticing for people to come work here,” he said.
Regarding the Red Deer Hospital, Park says he is aware of its capacity issues as well as its challenges in recruiting members to their workforce such as experts, specialists, nurses, and physicians.
He says their goal for these meetings is to not only listen to the large challenges faced by frontline workers and communicate those with government officials but also to brainstorm solutions for smaller issues to provide workers with some immediate relief.
“We all agree that the healthcare system is in crisis and needs a lot of work so we’re offering a working relationship to reconnect and make this work and try to get this done together,” he said.
Park says the past few years have been difficult for the healthcare industry with the previous government having torn up contracts with doctors, fostering an adversarial relationship.
READ: Alberta ends master agreement with doctors, announces new pay structure
However, Park says he feels optimistic about the future.
“We’re changing the tone here with the new meetings with the minister in her office and trying to create an environment where we can work collaboratively,” he said. “A big part of this is reestablishing that face-to-face with the people that are out there on the frontlines and with the government and decision makers.”
The AMA will be stopping in other major cities along their tour like Calgary, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, and Fort McMurray. Park says they have also made an effort to visit physicians in smaller centres like Cochrane and Banff to get the true “pulse” of the province.
READ: Province taking immediate action to improve access to primary health care in Alberta