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At Alberta Health Services, our patients are at the centre of everything we do.

That extends to patients who have broken a leg, or require heart surgery, and it extends to people caught in the midst of a mental illness.
So, when we read about the experiences of Andrea Head-Lahey and Jeff Bentley at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre, we were naturally concerned.
Nobody should leave any of our facilities or services feeling unsupported or alone.
Mental health is a significant priority for AHS. We take it seriously, just as we take any other form of healthcare seriously.
That is as true for the patients we see, treat and support in our major centres, as it is for our patients in rural areas, such as Cold Lake.
We continue to work extremely hard to break down the stigma of mental illness, and this extends to our physicians , staff and volunteers.
We know how difficult it can be for anyone to come forward and seek help, and when they do, we must listen to them, assess them, and ensure they are connected to the most appropriate mental health resource.
We must all be on the same page – mental illness is serious, it is real,and we must all be prepared to talk about it openly and productively, to help those caught in its clutches.
And, we need to recognize that each person and their situation is unique, that every journey to better health will be different, and note that experts are available to help them get the care they need, when they need it.
We are aware of concerns regarding mental health services in the Cold Lake area, and we know we need to improve the linkages between the services we offer, so that they are better integrated and easier to navigate.
A critical part of that is making every effort to act on input from clients and caregivers, as well as embracing input from the community.
We will be meeting in the next few weeks with local stakeholders, including municipal leaders, to listen to their concerns, and better explain what services and programs are available in the community, as well as what we are doing to improve healthcare in the area.
We take any feedback seriously, particularly when it comes from our patients and clients.
Their input helps us ensure we have the required supports and programs in place, and also helps us build the skill of our healthcare providers who may not specialize in mental health, but play a role in helping guide a patient through the healthcare system.
We have an amazing care team in Cold Lake, including adult therapists, a child therapist and an intake worker. The local Primary Care Network also provides mental health supports through their social worker.
Psychiatry services are available as needed, through physician referrals. Telepsychiatry is also available, depending on the patient’s care needs, which helps to increase access to specialists in rural areas.
And, we offer an emotional regulation group for those experiencing anxiety and depression and have partnerships with several community agencies (http://coldlake.com/content/contacts-adult-services).
We are proud of the work of our Cold Lake staff and physicians, but we know we must continue to listen to our communities so everyone can best benefit from their work.
Because when it comes to mental health, we are all in this together.
Gregory Cummings
Chief Zone Officer
AHS North Zone
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 12:46:51 MDT PM