Today marks 4 years since the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) released the Continuity of Patient Care Study. The HQCA used Greg’s journey to examine the continuity of patient care in our healthcare system. The report outlines 13 recommendations and though there have been some accomplishments, the majority of the recommendations have not been fully implemented.

As Greg’s family, we have been trying to create positive change to the system in a variety of different ways. Since the report’s release we have had the opportunity to speak to a wide variety of audiences about our priorities, we know that Greg’s journey (along with the report) is being used by several post-secondary institutions, and we have turned Greg’s story into a short film that we believe will have a significant impact in the years to come. The HQCA report provided a solid foundation from which we have been able to have an impact and we will forever be grateful for that.

We have also learned quite a bit about the culture of the system and of the burden of provincial politics flowing through it. When the different parts of the system came together under the Minister of Health and the Premier the structure enabled a “command and control” management system. The system has gone through different appointed (and replaced) leaders and now, after more than 2 years of the present government, it still remains a command and control system. In fact, in some areas, we believe the culture has hardened further with less transparency to Albertans, either as patients and families or as the public.

Over these 4 years, we have noticed in many areas of the country, an increased willingness by some leaders, to commit to learn from “near misses” and from errors and tragedy. The vast majority of patients and families that have experienced harm want something good to come from their unfortunate experiences. It takes courage for leaders to step up and admit what has gone wrong, to talk about it and learn, and to put processes in place to prevent it from happening again.

In Alberta, we have witnessed greater willingness of individual doctors and some of their organizations, to speak out about what they are encountering as providers and to become more public in their efforts to influence positive change. We believe this communication between health professionals and the public is critical to making the system better. We must learn from our weaknesses and our mistakes in order to improve, and we all need to work together to do this.

The on-going work of the HQCA is very valuable by providing an independent review of some of the goings-on in Alberta’s health system.  The report on what happened to Greg and his premature death has been incredibly important to us and we believe that it also been useful to the wonderful health professionals who have been trying to improve the system. As a result of the excellent work of the HQCA the public can and will become better informed on our health system and with growing support of the public, real change will start to accelerate – and that is critically important and will be good for all Albertans.


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