Tag: healthcare

Healthcare providers sign letter in effort to get more health funding to Ottawa

Ottawa County’s Public Health funding remains a worry for many, and most people at Tuesday’s public hearing are attending in support of the health department.

Before approving the 2024 fiscal budget, commissioners have much to consider following the public hearing.

More than 100 healthcare providers signed a letter sharing the impact public health cuts will have on the county.

“I’m concerned that you’d be jeopardizing your tax base by jeopardizing the health care of our community,” Dr. Kurt Lindberg told Ottawa Commissioners.

The county’s budgeting process is in the final stretch.

“I would like you to severely think about your decision to defund the health department,” Dr. Michael Borenitsch said.

Recently, the hot topic is how to fund the county’s health department.

“I think if we want to make the health department better, and I think that’s what you want, you want to better health department. I don’t think the point is to defund them or take away their money,” Dr. Matt Olson said.

“Every time there’s a change of the guard, people are being replaced, new people are being brought in, budgets are reviewed. And I don’t understand the complaints or the fear associated with all these programs. I agree the Public Health Department is so important. But it’s also important to make sure that we’re using those funds for programs that have the most impact,” Kristen Meghan Kelly said.

At the meeting, Ottawa County Administrator John Gibbs explained to commissioners this proposed budget allocates more to public health than in 2019.

“The originally proposed FY24 Public Health budget, long before we took a deeper look at it at budget, would have been 26% higher than the current budget that is in front of us right now,” Gibbs said to the commissioners.

Under this new budget draft, the health

B.C.’s ‘outrageous’ spending on health-care agencies met with outcry

A public outcry has followed a CTV News investigation that revealed the considerable markups private staffing agencies are charging the public health-care system for temporary workers, as health authorities and facilities push back. 

Frontline workers, elected officials, and the general public have expressed shock and frustration at the business model and potential profits to be had: companies lure workers from full-time unionized workplaces with high hourly pay, meals and other expenses covered when working more than 50 kilometres from home, and flexible hours for positions ranging from nurses to care aides to technologists.

The contracts reveal the companies are charging health authorities nearly twice the workers’ unionized wages, representing a markup of 30 per cent or more. 

“To see the actual numbers is quite distressing,” said BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau. “Public money, taxpayer money is going into the coffers of private corporations for them to provide the service the public system should be providing.”

BC United opposition health critic, Shirley Bond, suggested “there should be a review of what’s happening when it comes to use of public taxpayer dollars” and what it’s doing to workplace relations between staff paid wildly different rates for the same work.


The 16 contracts obtained after a seven-month freedom of information battle with the Provincial Health Services Authority provide clues to behind-the-scenes haggling to control and standardize the markups. Most of the agreements are nearly identical and all are the current deals in place with B.C.’s health authorities.

When their latest agreement was signed in the fall of 2021, Calian Ltd was only providing nurses to Interior Health and charging a whopping $115 an hour for those workers. An amendment to that contract signed in August 2022 brought that in line with the other agreements, to the $70 per

SHA embarking on national tour to promote health-care careers in Sask.

SHA embarking on national tour to promote health-care careers in Sask.

Health Minister Everett Hindley says Saskatchewan’s Health Human Resources Action Plan has seen success in the year since it first launched. (Lisa Schick/980 CJME)

As Saskatchewan struggles with an ongoing shortage of health-care workers, two agencies are about to embark on a national tour to promote employment opportunities in the province.

From Sept. 22 through Oct. 6, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the newly established Saskatchewan Healthcare Recruitment Agency will be sending a delegation to Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

According to a release from the provincial government, the goal of the tour is “to promote employment opportunities, benefits and incentives available in the province.”

The delegation will be meeting with health-care workers, students and post-secondary schools in the five provinces, including two large career fairs and multiple meet-and-greet events in centres including Toronto, Montreal, St. John’s, Charlottetown and Halifax.

The Saskatchewan government said current trends show that young adults, families and new graduates are interested in moving to or returning to the province as they seek out affordable living, opportunities for full-time work and higher pay.

Health Minister Everett Hindley said there has never been a better time to come to Saskatchewan for work in the health-care field.

“As part of our recruitment efforts, we will continue to promote our province as the great place it is, offering a lower cost of living, excellent wages and benefits, plus strong health care teams and wonderful communities to join,” Hindley said in a statement.

Health Human Resources plan hits one-year milestone

September marks the first anniversary of Saskatchewan’s $60-million Health Human Resources Action Plan, the aim of which was to add 1,000 health-care workers to the workforce over the next few years.

Tim McLeod, Saskatchewan’s minister of mental health and addictions, said the plan

Scholarship allows health-care workers to upgrade education

The loved-ones of a woman who spent 14 months at Royal Jubilee Hospital have made a $3-million donation to health education

The loved ones of a woman who spent 14 months at Royal Jubilee Hospital have made the largest donation to health education ever received by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation to honour her memory and thank the staff.

The $3-million pledge resulted in the creation of the Heather Simpson Scholarship Fund, intended to advance the careers of Island Health staff, with $250,000 from the pledge earmarked for palliative-care education and training.

The scholarship has 59 inaugural recipients and will pay for 50 per cent of their annual tuition as they take part in a variety of health programs.

“This pledge sends the powerful message that our care teams are the pillars of our health-care system, and that there is a community of people that want to lift them up,” said foundation chief executive Avery Brohman. “In its essence, the scholarship lessens financial barriers for caregivers who wish to specialize, broaden or hone in on their skills, for the ultimate betterment of the community.

“We are deeply grateful to the donors for this pledge that is far-reaching and of much impact, especially in the times we are in.”

In choosing the scholarship winners, preference was given to Island Health employees with at least five years of service.

They include an X-ray technologist who wants to become a doctor, a registered nurse working to be a nurse practitioner and several licenced-practical nurses resuming their studies to earn degrees as registered nurses.

One of the latter is Mandie Vossler of Comox, who hopes to earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing from North Island College.

The 40-year-old said that the scholarship means she won’t have to give up educational time “in order

AI healthcare could be unsafe, but also useful

IF A PATIENT KNEW their doctor was going to give them bad information during an upcoming appointment, they’d cancel immediately. Generative artificial intelligence models such as ChatGPT, however, frequently “hallucinate”—tech industry lingo for making stuff up. So why would anyone want to use an AI for medical purposes?

Here’s the optimistic scenario: AI tools get trained on vetted medical literature, as some models in development already do, but they also scan patient records and smartwatch data. Then, like other generative AI, they produce text, photos, and even video—personalized to each user and accurate enough to be helpful. The dystopian version: Governments, insurance companies, and entrepreneurs push flawed AI to cut costs, leaving patients desperate for medical care from human clinicians. 

Right now, it’s easy to imagine things going wrong, especially because AI has already been accused of spewing harmful advice online. In late spring, the National Eating Disorders Association temporarily disabled its chatbot after a user claimed it encouraged unhealthy diet habits. But people in the US can still download apps that use AI to evaluate symptoms. And some doctors are trying to use the technology, despite its underlying problems, to communicate more sympathetically with patients. 

ChatGPT and other large language models are “very confident, they’re very articulate, and they’re very often wrong,” says Mark Dredze, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University. In short, AI has a long way to go before people can trust its medical tips. 

Still, Dredze is optimistic about the technology’s future. ChatGPT already gives advice that’s comparable to the recommendations physicians offer on Reddit forums, his newly published research has found. And future generative models might complement trips to the doctor, rather than replace consults completely, says Katie Link, a machine-learning engineer who specializes in healthcare for Hugging Face, an open-source

How AI Can Help Healthcare Organizations Bolster Patient Data Security

How Hospitals Can Gain Visibility Into Their Data

If organizations do not know where their data is or what it looks like, they cannot properly secure it. Finding patient information within an organization is not an easy task and often requires computer programming skills.

Outdated technologies that leverage rules-based pattern matching to identify whether something is protected health information are difficult at best to get working properly, and they are no longer sufficient to protect healthcare organizations from their greatest risks.

But advancements in artificial intelligence are powering solutions to identify and inventory electronic protected health information (ePHI). The power of deep learning allows AI models to mimic the ability of trained humans in identifying ePHI, without needing to undertake cumbersome programming tasks and continuously tweak, test and analyze large amounts of search patterns and detection rules. That process is old school and limits organizations that want to scale.

LEARN MORE: How AI is making healthcare smarter.

How Hospitals Can Meet Better Standardization and Compliance

The National Institute of Standards and Technology provides guidance and resources for implementing security measures that comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, which serves to better protect patient information and reduce the impact of cyberattacks by safeguarding ePHI held or maintained by HIPAA-regulated entities.

As stated in the NIST 800-66r2 document: “The ePHI that a regulated entity creates, receives, maintains, or transmits must be protected against reasonably anticipated threats, hazards, and impermissible uses and/or disclosures.”

The document provides updated and crucial implementation guidance for HIPAA-regulated entities to proactively protect patient data and identify and manage ePHI risks. As the de facto standard for best practice, NIST 800-66r2 directs organizations to have an incident response plan for all areas in which ePHI is being used, stored or shared.

The first step to achieving this is to

Why some health-care professionals in Canada are prescribing nature to patients – New Brunswick

A growing number of health professionals in Canada are writing a new kind of prescription that doesn’t need to be filled at a pharmacy.

“I think that it is one of the simplest and easier prescriptions that a doctor could do,” said nature guide Heather Fraser, who owns Exploring Nature’s Bounty in Moncton, N.B.

PaRx is Canada’s national nature prescription program, which was launched in B.C. in 2020, said Dr. Melissa Lem, its director. The initiative was started by the BC Parks Foundation and is being supported by health-care professionals who want to improve their patients’ health by connecting them to nature, she said.

The program has since spread to every province in the country, recruiting more than 11,000 health professionals across Canada who are now recommending nature time to their patients, Lem said.

“Whether you are a doctor, nurse, physiotherapist or psychologist, you can literally prescribe nature time to improve your patients’ health,” she said.

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Health-care providers in Canada are prescribing 30,000 scripts per month, according to Lem.

Her recommendation is to spend at least two hours in nature per week, with sessions lasting at least 20 minutes at a time.

Fraser said she is eager to get involved in the program in New Brunswick by taking patients out for their dose of nature therapy.

“It is that serenity, that peace; it takes away all the stress. When you are out here, you can be quiet if you want. The birds are in the trees, too. It is the sound and peacefulness that you have when you are out in nature,” Fraser said.

The health benefits of getting grounded in nature,

Saskatoon partnership aims to help refugees with health-care translation – Saskatoon

A partnership in Saskatoon aims to build health literacy within Saskatchewan for newcomers to the province.

Saskatchewan Blue Cross says it has partnered up with 10 organizations within the health literacy space, one of them being Global Gathering Place.

Kelly Wilson, the president and CEO of Saskatchewan Blue Cross, said they started their partnership with Global Gathering Place in 2021 after there was an influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Click to play video: 'Racism partly to blame for unequal health care provided to Indigenous women: PHAC'

Racism partly to blame for unequal health care provided to Indigenous women: PHAC

“There were a lot of newcomers in our province and you can imagine that they don’t always know our language when they land,” Wilson said.

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She said there’s a big need to help support people to understand their health-care needs.

Wilson said with Global Gathering Place they are working on cultural and language services and providing translation and funding for a number of the programs that Global Gathering Place has.

She said they help support 10 partners within the health literacy space.

Doha Kharsa works with Global Gathering Place as a path facilitator. She said she helps provide access to the health-care system for refugees.

She said refugees and newcomers to Saskatchewan will meet with the Open Door Society, an organization that helps connect newcomers to several services, which then refer those people to path facilitators.

Click to play video: 'Is Saskatchewan’s health-care system falling short?'

Is Saskatchewan’s health-care system falling short?

“Then we will start assisting them to navigate the health-care system, and the program is for six months.”

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She said health care is a priority for everyone, noting many refugees have no clue

N.L. health-care system in ‘a deep, dark hole’: NLMA president


SaltWire’s Atlantic regional weather forecast for August 23, 2023 | SaltWire

Watch on YouTube: “SaltWire’s Atlantic regional weather forecast for August 23, 2023 | SaltWire”

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — How big is the backlog of surgeries in Newfoundland and Labrador right now? At a Thursday news conference about fixing that very issue, no officials nor the health minister could give reporters a number.

When pressed to describe the backlog in words instead of a number, one official offered the following: “It’s large,” said Cassie Chisholm, vice-president of transformation (health systems) for the provincial health authority.

Chisholm could offer some approximate numbers for specific categories of surgeries. For example, she said there are about 3,000 people waiting for total hip and knee joint replacements, and about 4,000 backlogged cataract surgeries.

In April last year, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) said there were almost 6,800 backlogged surgeries at the Health Sciences Centre and St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital alone.

NLMA president Dr. Gerard Farrell. — Juanita Mercer/SaltWire
NLMA president Dr. Gerard Farrell. — Juanita Mercer/SaltWire

SaltWire asked NLMA president Dr. Gerard Farrell on Thursday whether that number has changed. He couldn’t provide a number, but he could speak subjectively from his experience working as a doctor.

“I don’t see the wait times going down,” he said.

In fact, Farrell said, over the past couple of months, even something like getting a CAT scan takes longer now than it did a year ago.

“It’s very, very difficult to get for our patients the kind of care that we think they deserve in today’s environment,” he said.

“I’ve had days when, at the end of the morning, I’ve looked at my list and I said, ‘What have I accomplished for these folks?’ Not because I’m not trying hard, but because I just can’t get them

Guest column: Wait times remain thorn in Canada’s health-care system

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By Jerry Agar

Here is the good news about the Canadian health-care system:

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As I write this, I will soon after voluntarily allow a team of trained professionals to knock me unconscious and cut me open.

They will stick pieces of metal and some other substance into my right knee in what I anticipate will ultimately bring an end to the constant pain I feel from my knee, which is operating at the moment bone-on-bone.

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The cartilage that is supposed to cushion my movements is gone. It hurts a lot. All the time.

At my pre-operative meeting with an anesthesiologist, he commented that I didn’t seem nervous. There would be no shame in being nervous over someone cutting you open and changing the interior of your body, but I am quite happy to have it done.

I trust the doctors, nurses and others as world-class health-care providers.

Anecdotally, everyone I have spoken to who has had the operation says they wish they had done it sooner and are happy with the results. They pass on advice that I need to suck it up, deal with some pain and do the required physiotherapy.

Statistically, reports I read on follow-up research say that, depending on the report, 80 to 90 per cent of people report satisfaction with the results.

Some people who are not completely happy may have had unrealistic expectations of such things as returning to their teenage glory on the ski slopes. I will be happy if I can walk to and from the grocery store with no pain.

I have spent considerable time on these pages and elsewhere complaining about the Canadian health-care system. The bad news is that, compared to other nations with some form of socialized medicine, we suffer from long

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