The Alberta government said it will reorient the healthcare system on Albertans to improve health outcomes for them and empower healthcare workers to deliver quality care. “Albertans deserve access to the healthcare they need, when and where they need it,” said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in a Wednesday press release. “Healthcare workers move mountains for their patients every day.”For too many years, Smith said Alberta’s healthcare system “has been too complex and uncoordinated, leading to unacceptable wait times and poorer health outcomes for Albertans.” She added it is time to change that. To improve the healthcare system, she said the Alberta government will put Albertans first in every healthcare decision and give its frontline experts the right space to care for them. The Alberta government said these changes will focus on primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health and addictions to ensure Albertans receive the best care within a single, integrated, high-functioning system. It added these changes will improve frontline service delivery, and jobs will be protected during this transition.Albertans will continue to access healthcare services where they receive their care during the system’s transition period and beyond.Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said Alberta is “at a critical juncture when it comes to healthcare.” “We need to refocus how the system is structured and create a path forward that will get us the outcomes Albertans deserve,” said LaGrange. “This work will take time, and it will not be easy.” To create a better healthcare system, LaGrange said it will rely on the world-class talent and expertise existing in it every step of the way. She asked healthcare workers to join it on this journey to create a better system. Alberta Medical Association (AMA) President Dr. Paul Parks said LaGrange has acknowledged the healthcare system needs urgent reform. “This work will only succeed with the involvement and leadership of physicians,” said Parks. “The AMA looks forward to meaningful consultation and collaboration as these reforms are further elaborated.”The Alberta government pledged to establish advisory boards to provide direction and support for the transition into the reorganized system. Its four organizations dedicated to each sector will be in place by fall 2024. Alberta Health Services (AHS) will continue to have a strong role in the refocused system. Under the new structure, AHS’ primary focus will be acute care and continuing care. Other AHS delivery functions will move to be accountable to the new organizations. The Acute Care Organization will oversee the delivery of hospital care, urgent care centres, cancer care, clinical operations, surgeries and emergency medical services. Acute Care will work with acute care providers, including AHS, Covenant Health and chartered surgical facilities, to speed up access to quality care and ensure patients’ journey through the system is efficient and effective.Key outcomes for it include shorter wait times for emergency departments and surgeries, lowering EMS response times, higher quality care across the province and enhancing access to care in rural areas. The Primary Care Organization will co-ordinate primary healthcare services and provide transparent provincial oversight. Primary healthcare includes all the services Albertans access to support their daily health needs through every stage of life. Key outcomes for Primary Care include ensuring every Albertan will be attached to a family physician or a nurse practitioner, providing timely access to high-quality primary care services, and supporting an integrated team of health professionals who have appropriate access to patient health information. In alignment with the Facility-Based Continuing Care Review, the Continuing Care Organization will provide oversight, co-ordination, service delivery, home care and community care. Continuing Care will renew focus on residents and create equitable, consistent, timely access to continuing care supports and services through a single, organized intake approach.It will focus on achieving equitable, consistent, timely access to continuing care services, an increased number and geographic distribution of beds to meet the needs of Albertans, and improved team-based cross-sector care leveraging other health and social services.To continue to move forward with a recovery-oriented system of care, the Alberta government will establish the Mental Health and Addictions Organization. Mental Health and Addictions will be responsible for the delivery of services provided by AHS.It will focus on supporting Albertans struggling with mental health and addictions in pursuing recovery, ensuring they can access a full continuum of recovery-oriented supports to improve their well-being and sustain recovery, and improve mental health and addiction care for them by expanding access to treatment and supports. Smith followed up by saying AHS will be one service provider reporting up to Acute Care. "They're not going to be at the top of that pillar, and they're not going to be at all of the pillars," she said. "Under Acute Care provision, we'll of course have Covenant Health, we'll have Alberta Health Services, and we'll have the doctor-run surgical centres as well." These divisions will report up to Acute Care, and it will report up to the health minister. Since AHS runs 106 healthcare facilities, she said it is the most significant provider of acute care services and suspects that will continue. Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley shared documents which came into her possession about the United Conservative Party government’s healthcare reform proposals on Tuesday. READ MORE: Notley leaks UCP government’s apparent healthcare reform plans“I'll be completely candid — they showed up in the mail,” said Notley. “There are 35 pages of photos of a presentation to cabinet detailing the UCP’s scheme to rip apart Albertans’ public healthcare.”.While the Alberta government makes these changes to the healthcare system, it said LaGrange has appointed a new AHS Board to refocus it during the transition. “I look forward to working with the new AHS Board members who will bring expertise and fresh perspective to the table as we work towards a structure that supports the health workforce and improves access to care,” she said. “Alberta Health Services will continue to have a key role in delivering acute care services, with a renewed patient emphasis on shorter wait times and higher quality of care.”The Alberta government acknowledged the seven-member board will support the transition of AHS into a healthcare organization with a focus on delivering high-quality acute care services within a reorganized system. This includes hospital care, urgent care centres, cancer care, clinical operations, surgeries and EMS. AHS Board Chair Lyle Oberg said he was honoured to serve Albertans and participate in building a stronger healthcare system that works for everyone. “I experienced first hand the imbalances between access to care in rural and urban communities during my practice as a physician,” said Oberg. “I am committed to steering Alberta Health Services towards providing high-quality acute care services across the province.”During the transition, the Alberta government admitted healthcare workers will be part of organizations dedicated to one sector and have their leaders’ undivided attention. This will empower frontline workers and drive innovation at the local level.The longer-term governance of a refocused AHS will be determined in collaboration with Acute Care. The new AHS Board members are Oberg, Sandy Edmonstone, Paul George Haggis, Andre Tremblay, Evan Romanow, Cynthia Farmer, and an additional member to be named. Edmonstone said she was honoured to participate in urgent, necessary efforts to strengthen the healthcare system. “I’m pleased to lend my expertise and work with my fellow board members to ensure Albertans have access to world-class care and outcomes now and into the future,” said Edmonstone. AHS Administrator Dr. John Cowell’s role will end with the creation of the board. Cowell will support it as an advisor until December. Smith and former Alberta health minister Jason Copping fired the entire AHS Board in 2022. READ MORE: Smith fires entire AHS board, brings in Cowell to whip health care into shapeShe announced immediate actions to reform AHS, which would lead to faster EMS times, decreased emergency room wait times, and reduced surgical wait times for Albertans.“We need a healthcare system that meets our growing demand and to take action to improve access,” she said.