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News Saskatoon (Nov 29): Concern and optimism as single provincial health authority set to launch

The Saskatoon Regional Health Authority held its final public meeting Wednesday as the province moves to a single health authority. The SRHA won’t exist come Monday when the government launches the Saskatchewan Health Authority — an amalgamation of 12 of the province’s health regions.

President and CEO of the Saskatoon Health Region Dan Florizone won’t be a part of the SHA, citing his passion and skills are not what the new authority needs. He told reporters after the meeting Wednesday the biggest impact will be on senior leadership. Florizone said every senior leader will have a new job.

“The learning curve is going to be very steep,” he said. “They may have had responsibility in a particular geographic area for a particular range of services. And now their work will expand quite broadly.”

Some senior leadership positions still need to be filled, according to the province.

President of the CUPE Health Care Council Sandra Seitz said there is concern among health-care workers that the way they perform their duties and deliver health care could be impacted.

“We hear their concerns and there’s a lot of animosity of how this new health authority is going to unfold,” Seitz told CTV News.

She added while workers and the union have been told frontline staff and patient care won’t see a big impact, there’s fear of eventual privatization and cutbacks as the new health authority takes shape.

The Ministry of Health released a statement to CTV News that said when the SHA launches Monday, “there will be no changes to health care programs, services, facilities or phone numbers. Residents can continue to access care in the same way as they always have.”

It goes on to say in-scope employees will experience little to no difference in their work and will continue to carry out their day-to-day functions as usual. It reads “out-of-scope staff will be transitioned in alignment with the SHA leadership structure and the determined functions of the VP portfolios.”

SRHA board chair Mike Stensrud said in the meeting there is “extreme concern” with changes that could come with the transition.

“It’s part of the process but a lousy part of the process — the unknown,” Stensrud said.

Both Stensrud and Florizone said they are optimistic the Saskatchewan Health Authority will continue to build on initiatives and work started within the Saskatoon Health Region, including a health-care strategy that sees a team of workers assigned to one patient, decentralizing services, and health care provided in patients’ homes and communities with the goal of taking stress off emergency rooms.

The transition is both professional and personal for the pair.

“It’s sad in a sense that some of those friendships — some of those special interactions that you have in life — come to an end,” Stensrud said.

He volunteers as the board chair and will continue his work at Cosmopolitan Industries. Florizone’s last day as president and CEO of the Saskatoon Health Region is Thursday. He said he isn’t sure what’s next for him but hopes he can continue working in health care.

Author: Angelina Irinici

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