Wednesday, May 17, 2017

and how does money magically appear in one hand and disappear in another?-------Under growing pressure from opposition critics, Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman continued to deflect questions about her deputy minister's allegedly inappropriate relationship with a private health foundation that recently received millions of dollars in public funding. Hoffman's grilling in the legislature Tuesday afternoon followed a formal request from the official Opposition Wildrose for an investigation by Alberta's ethics commissioner into the relationship between Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein and the Pure North S'Energy Foundation.---------A medical research service that collects and freezes tumours removed from cancer patients is facing questions about its future after losing its main funding source. The Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, more commonly known as the “tumour bank,” has stopped taking new samples and laid off five staff members after seeing its budget cut by more than half. The remaining budget is being used to maintain the current collection of 1.5 million tumours and fluids, which are split between storage facilities in Edmonton and Calgary. “The model we are going to operate on with the bank is going to be a little bit different,” said Dr. Matt Parliament, senior medical director with CancerControl Alberta. “It will be a little bit leaner and it will not continue to grow as it has in the past.”-----


The problems of the PC error continue with the NDP error. We see that the non-compliances in the continuing care facilities are ongoing for years --the Lacombe long term care is an AHS facility and there is no excuse for problems detailed in the accommodation reports at the GOA site being ongoing for years. What the heck is wrong with the set up right now? I guess you can't expect the health authority or Alberta Health to do the oversight properly -we're just paying them for issuing excuses that these problems are taken seriously when it's evident to us that if the problems are ongoing for YEARS that no one is taking these problems seriously.
In addition to the ongoing problems of known non-compliances that are tolerated by the health authority and Alberta Health until the media publishes the reports--we have the odd matter of money appearing in one hand and then vanishing in the other hand.
Why was $14.2 million given to an alternate health program where vulnerable citizens were used as experimental humans without any interest about liability issues or public health problems by the bureaucrats and the politicians at Alberta Health? Does no one have any background in science or public health risks? Or do the folks in government simply make political decisions that ignore public health issues? What the heck is going on in the GOA?
We have money given to this hare brained project and then the real science of keeping cancer samples for research so that new drug therapies can be developed--well that's not funded. What the heck???
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and we take our voices
and we speak
without resentment
we raise the issues in the system
and we tell the government of Alberta
to get cracking
we've woken up from the sleep of forty years and more
and we're speaking for the vulnerable
in our institutions
we're no longer accepting the excuses
that these matters are taken seriously
while the province fiddles
over the non-compliances that are flagrant for years 


and we take our voices
and we speak
we ask about the allocations of money
for a health care program that is unconventional
the True North program from nowhere
that is going nowhere
and we ask why the foundation got money
while the seniors are lacking proper staff:resident ratios 
we ask about the non-compliances that nursing students
find while the folks at AHS tell us that they are doing audits
what is going on in health care in Alberta?
and how does money magically appear in one hand and disappear in another?




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Staff placed on leave after nursing students flag alarming problems at Lacombe Hospital

Using leaked audit documents, Opposition Wildrose describe conditions at the facility as 'appalling'

By Gareth Hampshire, CBC News Posted: May 10, 2017 1:32 PM MT Last Updated: May 11, 2017 6:49 PM MT
Alberta Health Services is investigating safety and sanitary issues and staff training at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre.
Alberta Health Services is investigating safety and sanitary issues and staff training at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre. (Google)
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Three staff members have been placed on leave at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre after a review uncovered safety and sanitary problems and inadequate staff training.    
Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean described conditions at the facility as "appalling" during question period at the Alberta legislature on Tuesday.    
The problems only came to light after nursing students from Red Deer College raised alarms in March, during their practicum at the facility.    
"We are grateful that the students who were on the site did raise concerns and that AHS followed up immediately," said Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.
Leaked documents made public by the Wildrose show not all staff at the centre received training on infection control practices.
Training was also found to be deficient in the areas of wound care, dementia care and medication management.
Private client health information was left unattended in unsecured locations easily accessible to staff and families.

Opposition concerned about patient safety

Other problems outlined in the documents included expired sterile supplies, such as catheters, dirty linen and overflowing garbage found in the hospital's hallways.
Linda Moore Martin, the dean of health sciences at Red Deer College, said it would not have been easy for the students to raise such an issue and is "immensely proud" of their actions.
"I think the students coming forward with their concerns has made a huge difference for the residents and we are very pleased that Alberta Health Services has taken the concerns expressed by the students seriously," Moore Martin said.
Jean told the legislature the documents identified 80 problems at the centre, some of which he said jeopardized patient safety.
"Would the premier trust the level of care at this hospital to her own loved ones?" he asked in question period Tuesday.
Hoffman replied, and insisted she would feel confident if her family members were being cared for at the hospital. She said solutions to the problems have since been put in place.
Alberta Health Services is investigating the issue and is now taking steps it said will ensure that patients get safe and effective care.

AHS says staff given more training

In a written statement, AHS said all 75 residents in the long-term care centre have had new health assessments and the centre has been thoroughly cleaned.
Education sessions are also being provided to staff.
The health authority said it has met with residents and their families to explain the situation.
An additional investigation is being conducted by the Protection for Persons in Care unit of Alberta Health.
The group responds to reports of potential abuse of patients in hospitals or nursing homes, in addition to examining accommodation standards.
That investigation was launched in March after Alberta Health was notified about the problems.

Alberta Health Services would not say what jobs were performed by staff placed on administrative leave, but said they'll remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigations underway.




Liberal Leader David Swann calls for audit of Alberta Health grant to Pure North private health foundation

Swann cites 'potential public health risks' posed by Pure North supplement program

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2017 2:13 PM MT Last Updated: May 11, 2017 2:13 PM MT
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, says he requested an audit because the public “needs to be assured" that millions of dollars in grants to Pure North were handed out for the right reasons.
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, says he requested an audit because the public “needs to be assured" that millions of dollars in grants to Pure North were handed out for the right reasons. (CBC)
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Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann has asked the auditor general to conduct an audit of Alberta Health's $10-million grant to Pure North S'Energy, a private health foundation that offers unproven alternative health treatments.  
In a news release issued Thursday, Swann, a former medical officer of health, said he requested the audit because the public "needs to be assured that millions of dollars of taxpayer money were given for the right reasons and for a program that has a demonstrated track record of improving health."
CBC News reported last month that Alberta Health gave Pure North a $10-million grant to expand its program, which featured high doses of vitamin D and the removal of mercury dental fillings, ultimately to 7,300 mostly low-income seniors.
Fred Horne
Former health minister Fred Horne, against ministry advice, gave Pure North a $10 million grant in December 2013 to expand the foundation’s seniors program. (CBC)
Internal government documents show former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding against the advice of ministry officials.
The officials determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by science, could not prove the health and economic outcomes it claimed, and may cause adverse reactions in participants. The foundation focuses on vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addicted and elderly, and operates free clinics in such places as homeless shelters and on Indigenous reserves.
In his letter to the auditor general, dated May 5, Swann wrote, "my office has conducted a preliminary review into the matter and, after having spoken to several stakeholders, I believe that there is sufficient grounds for concern, especially as it relates to the potential public health risks the vitamin supplement program may cause to a vulnerable population."
CBC News also reported last month that the rationale for the grant was inexplicably changed from a research project to simply an expansion of the program. The change meant there was no ethical oversight of the program.

Health advocate says minister should review program

Pure North collects detailed medical information from its participants, including blood samples, and has built a "mega-database" to which university researchers have been provided access.
The foundation insists it is not conducting research but instead gathers data to gauge the efficacy of its program. Its spokesperson, Stephen Carter, has told CBC News the information provided to researchers is simply a "secondary" use of that data.
Carter also claims Pure North has many studies that prove the effectiveness of its program. He said 50,000 people have participated in the program without any safety issues.
Friends of Medicare executive director Sandra Azocar supported Swann's call for an audit. But she stressed Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has a responsibility to independently investigate the potential effects of the Pure North program on vulnerable Albertans.
"It is a concern that nobody is giving a voice to all the people that could potentially have been impacted," Azocar said, adding that Pure North distributed packets of high-dose supplements to vulnerable Albertans.
"Who is speaking for them?" Azocar said.

Health deputy minister lobbied for Pure North funding

Earlier Thursday, CBC News reported that several former senior civil servants said Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein had openly lobbied for funding for Pure North while he was official administrator of Alberta Health Services, the operating arm of the ministry. Some of the former civil servants said they told Amrhein he was in a conflict of interest.
Carl Amrhein
Several sources told CBC that Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein personally lobbied for more funding for Pure North, an alternative health foundation, while he was official administrator of Alberta Health Services. (CBC)
CBC News has revealed Amrhein and his wife were both participants in the Pure North program and that Amrhein, while deputy minister, had met privately with Allan Markin, the wealthy Calgary philanthropist who founded and largely funds Pure North.
In October 2016, Amrhein signed, on behalf of the ministry, a $4.2 million grant to Pure North for a nurse-practitioner clinic.
Both Amrhein and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman have refused to answer questions about the alleged lobbying and conflict of interest.
Azocar, of the Friends of Medicare, said the government has a duty to provide answers.
"I think the more that we know and the more that we hear about this story, there becomes more of a need for us to actually get some answers as to how this request for money, and the money that was previously allocated to this company, all came down," she said.
Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper said the auditor general should review both grants awarded to Pure North. Like Azocar, he said the government must investigate safety concerns raised about the Pure North program.
"Patient safety is obviously the number one priority," Cooper said. "And health dollars should be spent based upon the best science available.
"So that is the responsibility of the health minister to ensure that that is happening," he said. "And if that isn't happening, we definitely need to be taking steps to correct that."
Hoffman's press secretary, Timothy Wilson, did not immediately respond to an interview request from CBC News on Thursday.
If you have any information about this story, or information for another story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-health-sarah-hoffman-pure-north-ethics-david-swann-1.4118793

Alberta health minister dodges questions about her deputy's relationship with private foundation

Wildrose has requested ethics investigation of Carl Amrhein’s ties to Pure North

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 5:35 PM MT Last Updated: May 16, 2017 6:00 PM MT

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told the legislature Tuesday she understood that her deputy had disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the province's ethics commissioner.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told the legislature Tuesday she understood that her deputy had disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the province's ethics commissioner. (CBC)

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Under growing pressure from opposition critics, Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman continued to deflect questions about her deputy minister's allegedly inappropriate relationship with a private health foundation that recently received millions of dollars in public funding.

Hoffman's grilling in the legislature Tuesday afternoon followed a formal request from the official Opposition Wildrose for an investigation by Alberta's ethics commissioner into the relationship between Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein and the Pure North S'Energy Foundation.

In a letter to Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler, Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper, and the party's health critic Tany Yao, asked for a full investigation.

"Albertans want to know that decisions aren't being made within the health department because of personal relationships or cronyism," Cooper said in a news release.

Carl Amrhein

Deputy health minister Carl Amrhein participated in Pure North S’Energy Foundation’s alternative health program. (CBC)

Amrhein did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News.

CBC News has previously revealed close ties between Amrhein and Pure North, a Calgary-based foundation that provides alternative health treatments, including high doses of supplements like vitamin D.

Deputy minister had close ties to foundation

Internal Alberta Health documents revealed Amrhein participated in the Pure North program while deputy minister and met personally with its founder, multi-millionaire philanthropist Allan Markin.

Several sources also told CBC News that Amrhein lobbied Alberta Health for more funding for Pure North while in his previous role as official administrator of Alberta Health Services, the operating arm of the ministry.

While provost of the University of Alberta, Amrhein provided two letters of support for Pure North, one used by  the foundation in its appeal to the government for public funding.

In December 2013, Progressive Conservative minister of health Fred Horne approved a $10-million grant to Pure North against the advice of ministry officials, who had determined the foundation's program was not adequately supported by science, could not prove the health and economic outcomes Pure North claimed, and may cause adverse reactions in participants.

In October 2016, Amrhein signed, on behalf of the ministry, a $4.2-million grant with Pure North for a nurse-practitioner-led primary care clinic. Hoffman has said the clinic will not offer any of its alternative treatments or its funding could be put at risk.

Trussler said Amrhein told her the decision on funding Pure North was made elsewhere and he merely signed the agreement in his capacity as deputy minister, after Hoffman had approved the funding.

Dr. David Swann

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, asked the health minister in the legislature Tuesday if she knew about her deputy's participation in, and lobbying for, the Pure North program. (CBC)

In the legislature Tuesday, Liberal Leader David Swann asked Hoffman if she knew about Amrhein's participation in, and lobbying for, the Pure North program, and if so, when.

Hoffman said she understood Amrhein disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the ethics commissioner.

"If the ethics commissioner wishes to look into this further, we certainly welcome that," Hoffman said, adding later that she could not recall any conversations about Amrhein's involvement with the foundation.

Amrhein, through a spokesperson, earlier said he "fully disclosed" his relationship with Pure North to the ethics commissioner when he became deputy minister in August 2015. Trussler confirmed Amrhein disclosed his participation in the Pure North program but said she could not legally reveal if he had disclosed anything else.

Auditor general asked to review grant

Hoffman's own conduct was also questioned Tuesday. She had previously said she knew nothing about serious health safety issues identified in government documents related to Pure North before she approved the $4.2-million grant to the foundation in October 2016.

But an Alberta Health Services briefing note shows that on Sept. 28, 2016 — a month before her ministry signed the grant agreement — Hoffman's office was told health officials had previously identified the "potential for negative health effects" resulting from the foundation's distribution of high-dose supplements to vulnerable populations.

Swann asked Hoffman what she knew about the health safety concerns before she signed the grant. She ignored the question.

The Wildrose letter to Trussler marks the second opposition request for an investigation related to Pure North. Earlier this month, Swann, a former medical officer of health, asked the auditor general to conduct an audit of the $10-million grant.

No decision has yet been made about whether an audit will be conducted, a spokesperson for the auditor general said Tuesday.

Despite the concerns of public health officials, Pure North points to research studies it says show the program is safe and effective.

If you have any information about this story, or for another potential story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca.

@jennierussell_

@charlesrusnell



http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/05/01/alberta-tumour-bank-reducing-staff-and-service-after-loss-of-funding

Alberta 'tumour bank' reducing staff and service after loss of funding



FIRST POSTED: SUNDAY, MAY 01, 2016 05:45 PM MDT | UPDATED: MONDAY, MAY 02, 2016 08:48 AM MDT
Cross Cancer Institute in EdmontonCross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. (Larry Wong photo)
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A medical research service that collects and freezes tumours removed from cancer patients is facing questions about its future after losing its main funding source.
The Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, more commonly known as the “tumour bank,” has stopped taking new samples and laid off five staff members after seeing its budget cut by more than half.
The remaining budget is being used to maintain the current collection of 1.5 million tumours and fluids, which are split between storage facilities in Edmonton and Calgary.
“The model we are going to operate on with the bank is going to be a little bit different,” said Dr. Matt Parliament, senior medical director with CancerControl Alberta. “It will be a little bit leaner and it will not continue to grow as it has in the past.”
Established in 2001, the service has been largely funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which has been providing annual grants of about $2 million in recent years. Earlier this year, the foundation informed Alberta Health Services it would not be renewing the contributions, leaving the health authority to shoulder the costs.
A spokeswoman for the foundation did not provide an exact reason for the move, but said funding decisions are often based on the ability to raise philanthropic support, and an evaluation of priorities to drive improved care for patients.
Parliament said AHS decided it couldn’t replace all the funding that was lost but wanted to at least maintain access to the “incredible resource” that had already been built. He said the biobank’s samples, which are all from Alberta patients, and can last indefinitely because they are stored in liquid nitrogen at temperatures around -80 C.
Edmonton’s storage site is at the Cross Cancer Institute, while Calgary’s part of the collection will be moved shortly to the Richmond Road Treatment Centre.
“Researchers can take those samples out of the bank and do experiments to look into the inner workings of the cancer cells,” Parliament said. “They might do DNA sequencing or look at mutations of cancer, to basically broaden the knowledge of cancer.”
The repository is used by about two dozen researchers each year, who must pay fees to access the samples, he said.
Lab technicians accounted for most of the layoffs, four of which were in Edmonton and one in Calgary.
Parliament said additional job losses were planned for Calgary, but staff there managed to find other positions. He said the same may happen in Edmonton, as AHS is trying to find new jobs for the people affected.
The cuts at the biobank are somewhat ill-timed, occurring the same month Mayor Don Iveson announced ambitions to make Edmonton a bigger hub of medical research, innovation and technology.
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