Monday, 10 March 2014

Dear Mr. Horne

Nicola Ramsey
Slave Lake Alberta

March 6 2014

The Honourable Fred Horne

Minster of Health
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Mr. Horne:

As you are aware, the people of Slave Lake are very concerned about the lack of doctors and other health services in our community. We are confused as to why you, as Minister of Health, have denied that our community is in a state of crisis regarding local healthcare.  We are not sure if you are misinformed or are deliberately misleading the public- but either way, you are not easing the tensions for our residents and healthcare workers. 

The people of Slave Lake are not alarmists, Mr. Horne. We do not panic over nothing.  Our 11,000 people calmly exited our area in May of 2011 as our homes burned down around us, assisting friends, neighbours and total strangers as we did so.  Our 11,000 people lived in hotels, tents, trailers, evacuation centres and the homes of others as we waited to know our fate. Our 11,000 people returned to the devastation of our community and rebuilt our homes and our lives without protest, letters to the editor, or complaints to national news about a lack of government support.  So if we say today that there is a crisis, please listen. We know what a disaster is.

On the day you announced in the legislature that there are six doctors working in Slave Lake, there were in fact three doctors and three nurse practitioners serving our 11,000 people. Two doctors were fully booked. On that same day, Slave Lake's AHS Clinical Director shared the new Q&A webpage that acknowledges that we need more physicians, and stated that four doctors are working in Slave Lake. Four doctors, Mr. Horne. Four doctors for 11,000 people. Four doctors cannot possibly cope with our healthcare needs. People wait for weeks for a doctor’s appointment or sit for hours as a walk-ins patient or drive for hours for routine treatment. Your office has received many of accounts of people whose needs are not met.

Further, your statement to the media that there was one doctor practicing in Slave Lake when you became Minister of Health on October 12 2011 is incorrect. In fact there were twelve doctors practicing medicine in Slave Lake on that date.  The people of Slave Lake have nothing but admiration for the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who returned to our community to serve our people after the fire in the face of great personal loss.  We ask that you respect their contributions.

Our 11,000 people have fought tooth and nail to restore our community to what it was before the fire. Our citizens including our local AHS administrators, front-line healthcare workers, municipal leaders and every day people are struggling to restore our medical services. 

If we say there is a crisis, please acknowledge that reality. Please do not belittle our situation. Please do not disrespect our community. We have suffered enough.