Thursday, 10 November 2016 08:00

Brooks and Oyen well represented on HAC

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The Palliser Triangle Health Advisory Council (HAC) has grown in members and there will be some new rural faces sitting at the table.

In mid-October, eight new members were announced for the HAC, joining six incumbents. Individuals are appointed to health advisory councils by the Alberta government.
New Palliser Triangle HAC members include Ajit Atwal, Patricia Dietrich, Paul Nederveen, Stephanie Shaw and Blake Pederson from Medicine Hat and Barry Morishita and Reg Radke both of Brooks, and Oyen’s Heather Norris. The newcomers join incumbents Sara Joan Armour, Diane MacNaughton and Dr. Kenneth Sauer from Medicine Hat, along with Rudi Brockmann from Oyen, Marjorie Moncrieff from Bow Island and Patty Rooks from Seven Persons.
As the current Family and Community Support Services director in Oyen, Norris felt her connections in the community could be of benefit to the Palliser Triangle HAC.
“I’m aware of the needs in the community and the resources,” she adds. “I’m retiring at the end of December and I felt serving on the advisory council would be a good way to serve the community. With the knowledge I bring to the table, I could be an effective liaison.”
Norris was encouraged by a community member to apply for a position on the area HAC. After giving it some consideration, she felt it would help keep her in tune with what is going on in the Oyen area.
While at the time of this interview she had yet to attend her first meeting, Norris was aware of some of the work Alberta Health Services is undertaking in the southeast corner.
“I participated in their (AHS South Zone) strategic planning for the next three years. I had input into where they are looking in the future,” she explains. “It will be interesting to see how the strategic plan plays into what they are able to accomplish.”
At first, Norris knows she will be getting her feet wet and just learning more about the HAC’s role and how it operates, but she does have areas of health she hopes will be up for discussion at the advisory council table.
“I feel passionate that addictions and mental health is a high priority for the health-care system. If issues are addressed through a community level then there can be less emergency visits ... (and) more time for physicians to pay attention to other things.”
Reg Radke, who retired from his position with Medicine Hat College, Brooks Campus earlier this year, applied to be on the Palliser Triangle HAC in the spring.
“I knew I was going to retire this past summer,” he says. “I thought it would be interesting ... and I thought I would have the time.”
The area of health is new to Radke whose career has meant a background that has been heavily based in post-secondary education. His strength he believes is his connection to southeast Alberta and its various communities.
“I thought I have a good understanding of southeast Alberta in terms of communities with work with the (Medicine Hat) College and as a volunteer,” he adds. “Health is an important issue. We have great services here, but they can always be improved.”
Radke also likes that health advisory councils even exist in the province. They were meant as a way to bridge the gap between the dissolution of local hospital boards and moving to the centralized system that is Alberta Health Services.
“It’s a good model to get input from the community,” points out Radke. “I’m looking forward to providing some ideas and representing a variety of communities including Brooks, around Brooks and in the southeast area.”
Barry Morishita, Mayor of Brooks, is already a busy man sitting on numerous committees and organizations, yet he is excited he has been appointed to the Palliser Triangle HAC.
“I think health care is an integral part of the complete community,” he says.
The previous mayor of Brooks also sat on the Palliser HAC, so Morishita felt he had a role there too to help give input and provide some perspective to what is happening in health care in Brooks and the surrounding area.
It will be a learning curve for Morishita to find out what’s on the table at the first few Palliser Triangle HAC meetings, as he readily admits there is a lot about the health-care system that he doesn’t know. He has an interest in learning more about the improvements that have been announced for the Brooks Health Centre and potential timelines. He also sees other important conversations for the future around the dialysis unit and the recruitment of medical professionals.
Morishita is also happy there are two representatives on the HAC from the Brooks area.
“It’s the idea we can make sure our perspective is heard from that community (viewpoint) ... It’s good to have that voice (at the table),” he adds.
New appointments to the Palliser Triangle HAC were for three years. There is still one vacancy on the area HAC. Anyone interested in applying can submit an expression of interest form available on the website at:
Inquiries can be directed to 1-877-275-8830 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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