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Alberta Focuses On Patients, Improved Health Access

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Alberta government has updated its health capital plan for the next three years to focus facility dollars on patients and improved access.

The three-year capital plan, valued at nearly $3 billion, reflects the infrastructure improvements required to address new health care directions introduced over the past year to make the system more patient focused.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) will have approximately $1.7 billion available for capital expenditures in 2009-10. This includes $238 million for 2009-10, supported by the $1.5 billion in cash capital reserves on hand.

In the three-year plan, support for capital projects increases to more than $1 billion in 2010-11 and $1.2 billion in 2011-12. &nbspFunding is also included in the capital plan for other expenditures such as information systems and purchase of vaccines. Total funding available for the next three years is approximately $4.5 billion.

“As part of Vision 2020, services at all existing, approved and proposed hospitals are under review to ensure they reflect local community needs and to see what services could be better delivered in other community settings,” said Health and Wellness Minister Ron Liepert. “That work is underway. And while we are investing strategically in capital infrastructure projects this year, the total provincial financial support for most approved projects has not changed. The time span for some projects may just be longer given current economic circumstances.”

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The capital plan for 2009-12 aims to:

* relieve pressure on the acute care system and emergency rooms by building a more robust graduated outpatient (ambulatory care) system;

* introduce more integrated health care which better matches resources with patient needs. Less focus on type of facility and more focus on delivering the right mix of services;

* shift from facility based long-term care to supportive living models (government will continue to partner with supportive living providers to optimize the number of spaces available); and

* adjust some project values for the substantial cost escalation over the past five years.

Since April 2008 there have been several reviews examining the challenge of improving access while at the same time moving from nine health regions to one province-wide board. The Provincial Service Optimization Review, Vision 2020, and the Continuing Care Strategy, all informed this capital plan.