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October 21, 2022
Get on-demand online wellness support
You can access Pathfinder, an enhanced version of the Employee and Family Assistance Program's digital experience to support your well-being. (more...)
COVID-19 Status & Cases in Alberta
Latest hospitalizations, ICU update and information on Variants of Concern and wastewater surveillance. (more...)
Pfizer bivalent vaccine booster now available to Albertans 12 and older
Pfizer's bivalent COVID-19 vaccine includes the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the BA.1 subvariant, is also available. (more...)
Important reminder about accessing your own health information
AHS staff, physicians, midwives and students are reminded they must only access information in AHS information systems, required for their professional role. (more...)
Edmonton Community Health Hub North officially opens
The new facility gathers primary care, mental health services, specialty services and home care, enabling AHS and PCN teams to collaborate. (more...)
Interim CEO video message and podcast – Executive Education Program
The Executive Education Program helps people grow as leaders and build their skills. Three recent participants share their experiences on today's vlog and podcast. (more...)
PPE Question of the Week - Safety Tips for Staff Returning to Sites
A few simple practices can help ensure your health and safety, as well as that of others around you. (more...)
Celebrate Global Handwashing Day and National Infection Control Week
Global Handwashing Day was on Oct. 14 and National Infection Control Week was Oct. 17-20. We wanted to celebrate these events by saying thank you for incorporating infection control in your everyday practice. Your commitment to patient safety helps spread prevention, not infection. (more...)
We hope you had a good week and an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful fall weather.
Thank you for everything you do, each and every day.
Interim AHS President & CEO
October 21, 2022
Please print and share with your teams as needed
AHS continues to make progress in its 10 priority areas. The following are updates on specific initiatives connected to some of the 10 priorities.
Workforce main theme of Health Engagement Tour
Engagement sessions were held across Alberta in June, July, September and October, generating significant conversation about workforce successes and challenges. The events were hosted by Health Minister Jason Copping in partnership with AHS leadership and the Board.
More than 1,075 stakeholders – internal and community – joined engagement sessions held in 21 communities across Alberta this summer and fall. What We Heard summaries of the events are posted here as they are released to participants.
The top theme from almost every one of the 41 events was 'workforce,' with subthemes such as recruitment and retention; staff shortages impacting AHS' ability to maintain services, especially in rural Alberta; staff burnout and stress; compensation and incentives; recognition; and scope of practice.
Community stakeholders praised local physicians, nurses and all healthcare providers for their dedication, innovation and excellent care. Many commented that once you are in the system, the care is "top-notch" and "world class".
Front-line staff and physicians also highlighted the level of quality of care provided across the system. Other top themes included local decision-making, access, EMS, wellness and health promotion, primary care, virtual health and engagement.
For next steps, we are evaluating the input collected from internal and external stakeholders and identifying opportunities for improvement and for further conversations. On Monday (Oct. 24), AHS is hosting a series of engagement sessions to dig into feedback related to local decision-making. HR is reviewing the recruitment management system (RMS) process based on feedback from the summer sessions and previous feedback from managers in hopes of streamlining and lessening the load on front-line managers. HR is also looking at its recruitment and retention initiatives and identifying improvement opportunities. Communicating progress to all session participants and to Albertans will be a critical component of the follow-up planned, both by Alberta Health and AHS.
A Together4Health online engagement page will also be launched soon offering opportunity for staff, physicians and volunteers to provide additional input into a range of improvement opportunities identified at the engagement events.
Responding to Our People Pulse Survey results
As we continue to respond and listen to the 2022 Our People Pulse Survey results, we are asking leaders and teams to discuss their results further and agree upon one team action to take for improvement. Leaders are asked to upload it to Gallup Access by the end of 2022.
All leaders are invited to join a one-hour webinar, on Oct. 26 at noon, on engaging conversations and taking action. You can register for this webinar on MyLearningLink by searching “Our People Survey.”
We heard you and your feedback helped us develop two resource guides for individuals and for leadership. These guides provide tips and resources on managing fatigue, burnout, well-being and wellness.
We will continue to check in and ask how you're doing as we put the results into action.
Learn more on Insite. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Surgical wait-list status update
AHS continues to work diligently to recover to pre-pandemic surgical status. Over the past four weeks, the average weekly volume for surgical activity is 99 per cent of our pre-pandemic surgical volumes. The surgical wait-list for adults sits at nearly 72,000, compared with about 68,000 in February 2020, before the pandemic. Approximately 127,500 surgeries have been completed in the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Last chance to register for the i4 2022 conference
The i4 Conference is on the horizon and offers attendees a roster of compelling sessions and speakers. The annual health and care innovation event inspires change agents to supercharge their work, improve health services and make ideas happen. Join virtually on Nov. 2 and 3, and get inspired by diverse thinkers and doers in a series of workshops and plenary talks. Register today.
Canadian Patient Safety Week starts next week
Join us in celebrating Canadian Patient Safety Week from Oct. 24 to 28. This year's theme is Press Play on Safety Conversations. When we have safety conversations, it changes the way we think about safety by asking questions, listening and acting. This week is an opportunity to create awareness and to learn what AHS is doing to make patient safety a priority. Visit ahs.ca/cpsw for more information.
Lung cancer screening pilot launches in Alberta
AHS has launched the Alberta Lung Cancer Screening Program (ALCSP), a two-year pilot project offering lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans to approximately 3,000 eligible Albertans.
Lung cancer screening is for individuals at a high risk for lung cancer. This pilot is being offered in three primary care networks (PCNs): Mosaic (Calgary), Edmonton O-day'min, and Grande Prairie. These locations were chosen based on high smoking rates and population demographics.
Albertans may be eligible for screening if they are between the ages of 50 and 74, and smoke cigarettes, or quit after smoking for many years. Eligible patients can be referred by a primary care provider from one of the three participating PCNs.
Screening with low-dose CT scans can detect lung cancer earlier, before someone has symptoms, and when treatment is more likely to be effective.
Visit screeningforlife.ca/lung for information or contact email@example.com
Recommended age lowered for breast cancer screening
Many Alberta women are now able to start biennial (every two years) breast cancer screening sooner following changes to clinical practice guidelines.
The recommended age for biennial screening for average-risk women has been lowered to 45 from 50. Alberta is the first province in Canada to make these changes, which expand the benefits of routine screening to more people.
The updated guidelines were created by the Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Clinical Practice Guideline Committee and are the result of an extensive review of new available evidence.
Based on current screening rates, approximately 12,000 more screening mammograms could be performed each year for women aged 45 to 49.
The updated guidelines are available on screeningforlife.ca.
When you create an account on homeweb.ca, you can access Pathfinder, an enhanced version of the Employee and Family Assistance Program's digital experience to support your well-being. Click the Meet Now button and you will be immediately connected to a professional who will support you and set up further appointments if needed.
Call the intake line any time at 1-877-273-3134 if you need confidential counselling or access to more tools. Support is available 24 hours a day.
Physicians can contact the AMA Physician and Family Support Program, a confidential 24/7 support line, at 1-877-SOS-4MDS.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hospitalizations and ICUs
On Oct. 17:
Variants of concern
Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) continues to closely monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants. From Oct. 11-17, an average of 60 per cent of positive samples were strain-typed. Of those, the seven-day rolling average was two per cent Omicron BA.2 lineage, three per cent Omicron BA.4 lineage, and 95 per cent Omicron BA.5 lineage. As global data is updated, sub-lineage designations are refined which may affect lineage calls in Alberta.
There are several lineages that are being closely monitored for increased growth potential. Specifically, increases in BQ.1.1 (a sublineage of BA.5) have been reported in Europe and the U.S., while XBB (a recombinant of two BA.2 sublineages) is on the rise in Singapore. Both lineages have been detected in small numbers in Alberta and across Canada. APL continues to monitor our data and adjust as information becomes available. There is no evidence that these globally rising lineages cause more severe disease than other Omicron lineages.
Wastewater can provide an early indication of infection trends in a community. For wastewater surveillance comparing weekly averages:
Eleven sites increased by more than 25 percent compared to the weekly average two weeks ago. These sites were Taber, Brooks, Airdrie, Calgary and area, High River, Okotoks, Strathmore, Drumheller, Lacombe, Fort McMurray and Edson. The other 10 sites decreased or had no significant changes.
The Alberta Wastewater Surveillance Program is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, APL and Alberta Health.
Other notable COVID-19-related information
The bivalent Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster, which includes the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, will be available starting Monday (Oct. 24) in Alberta for those 12 years and older. This is in addition to the currently available bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the BA.1 subvariant.
Starting Oct. 24, appointments will be available online, through participating pharmacies, or by calling Health Link at 811. If your local pharmacy is not listed in the booking system, contact them directly or visit bluecross.ca to find a pharmacy near you.
Individuals five years of age and older can get their influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters, at the same time. In most cases, separate appointments are not needed. It is recommended that children six months to four years of age wait 14 days between receiving their COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine or routine childhood vaccines.
Individuals with questions about whether they should receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster based on their personal medical history, age or other risk factors should discuss them with their family physician.
Connect Care improves our access to information and the care we provide to Albertans. With access to information comes great accountability. As we prepare for the next launches of Connect Care, we must remember that under no circumstances should anyone:
Accessing health information not required for your professional role is a privacy breach and against legislation, professional standards and the AHS Code of Conduct.
How can you see your own health information, appropriately? AHS staff and physicians can sign up for a personal MyAHS Connect account. This helps you see the benefits of MyAHS Connect for your patients and gives you appropriate access to your own information. Read Chief Privacy Officer Message for more details.
On Oct. 12, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the opening of the Edmonton Community Health Hub North. The health hub is made possible through a partnership between AHS and the Edmonton North Primary Care Network (PCN).
The facility brings primary care, mental health services, specialty services and home care all under one roof, enabling AHS and PCN teams to collaborate and support patients, clients and healthcare staff across the Edmonton zone.
As of Oct. 12, all of AHS' programs and services designated for the Health Hub have moved in and are seeing patients and clients.
Approximately 400 AHS staff have access to work out of the site. The clinic and office space was designed to be jointly used by all in a collaborative manner, with a number of drop-down work areas.
The backbone of our organization is our people: those on the front lines and those who support them and patient care in other ways. For our people to succeed, we must give them the opportunity to learn and grow — and that includes our leaders across the organization.
Today's AHS Vlog and podcast are all about the AHS Executive Education Program. Facilitated in partnership with the universities of Alberta and Calgary, this program helps people grow as leaders, build their skills, and connect with others across AHS to tackle real-world healthcare challenges.
Joining the vlog and podcast to share their experience with the program are:
With more employees returning to AHS sites, and increased use of common spaces, such as break rooms and meeting rooms, a few simple practices can help ensure your health and safety, as well as that of others around you. Rod Kaliel, Executive Director of Workplace Health and Safety, discusses some important reminders in this PPE Question of the Week.
Global Handwashing Day at AHS was on Oct. 14 and National Infection Control Week was Oct. 17-20. I want to celebrate these events by saying thank you for incorporating infection control in your everyday practice. Your commitment to patient safety helps spread prevention, not infection.
I hope you had a good week and an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful fall weather. Thank you for everything you do, each and every day.
Interim AHS President & CEO