Thursday May 1st, I was invited to present Greg’s Journey to a group of senior leaders of the Alberta health care system and associated Alberta government officials during their second phase of Results Based Budgeting review of Acute Care and Continuing Care.
My presentation was a combination of introducing who Greg was, what he meant to family and friends and what his aims in life were. I followed that by referencing the HQCA Report and some of Dr. Flemons’ powerpoint slides to show what led up to his death. A portion of my presentation also spoke to what we, as Greg’s family, saw as major short comings in the lack of a true “system” for patient care. I indicated that if the system of health care in Alberta was a patient, it is very sick and needs a heart transplant from a variety of perspectives. The culture must be changed dramatically. I provided some comparisons to what we knew was possible and what is common in other sectors where businesses utilize long standing and effective quality control systems. I also talked about the use of electronic data bases as a platform to not only record and to inform, but to measure performance for both improvement and accountability. It continues to amaze us that there is no universal comprehensive electronic data driven system for all patients and doctors in Alberta today.
I also talked about our experience as a family, after making Greg’s tragic journey public and the number of people that came up to us to describe their experiences (near misses I learned they are called inside the system) often starting the description by saying “I/we were lucky…” This led to ask whether we would say that “we were lucky” to reach our destination on public transit, or on an airliner. It was also interesting to have a few people come over at lunch and relate that they had the same thing happen to them.
I found the group very committed to improving health care delivery itself, and also moving it to be genuinely patient centred. In the smaller group discussions, their top priorities were reviewed and refined and I was provided the opportunity to comment on them, from a patient family’s perspective.
At the end of the day, everyone was given the opportunity to comment on the work done. It was very interesting to hear some participants say that they had been to a number of reviews over the years, and their concern was for some of the key priorities that keep coming back but very little if anything comes of them. Some clearly felt that the reason was the lack of political will to move forward.
I was given the opportunity to have the “last word”. I choose to comment that we feel that over the next 6 months in particular, there will be a unique opportunity to have a new public discussion of what government policies and priorities should be for health care in Alberta. As a family, we hope to help inform the public about the situation as we see it. We feel that if the public knew just how much different the system is than they assume to be they would quickly ensure political priorities would change. I indicated that we would like to work together any way we could, to help get the real information to the public so that the badly needed improvements can finally be made. While I won’t comment on what this group’s priorities are, I will say that there was not disagreement on the comments I made from our family’s perspective.
After the meeting, I left feeling that it had been a very good exchange of thoughts and ideas. Our belief that there are very good people trying to do the right thing, but again, there is no system to work together, to build on people’s strengths and to insure that there is Safe, Continuous, Collaborative, Patient Centred Care in Alberta. It was very good to meet more people who are passionate about patient care. They are willing to keep working for the critically needed and, as much as they can, to work together with us to make this happen.