"If you got a problem, yo I solve it" says the rapper. "If you got a solution, yo I problem it" says the Alberta healthcare system

April 1st of 2010, the Gimbel Eye Centre in Calgary posted the following notice:

Government decision forces Gimbel Eye Centre surgeons to take their cataract surgery patients to other surgical facilities

Alberta Government decision impacts ONLY Alberta CATARACT Surgery patients

(For further clarification, see our FAQ)

April 1, 2010

* On Friday, March 26, 2010, Alberta Health Services informed us of their decision to limit the number of facilities able to provide cataract surgery services to Alberta patients. Instead of several non-hospital surgical facilities contracted to provide cataract surgery in both Calgary and Edmonton, there will now be only two in Calgary and two in Edmonton.

* What that means is that physicians from various surgical centres will only be allowed to provide surgical services in those specified centres, requiring re-routing of hundreds of patients and doctors from several clinics.

* The decision is to be effective April 1. However, because of the very short notice (4 business days), we are extremely concerned about the impact on our patients, many of whom have been booked for surgery for months. Our priority has been on making the transition as seamless as possible for our patients.

* There are many questions about the ability of these contracted providers to accommodate this demand in such a short time frame. We are concerned about the serious logistical issues that are presented as a result of this decision.

* We are shocked and saddened by this decision, which was made on the basis of who could provide services at the lowest cost to Alberta Health Services.

* We have been working with various levels of government to express our concerns and advocate for the best possible outcomes for our patients.

* We will work in every way possible to minimize the impact on our patients. Alberta cataract patients will continue to receive pre- and post-op care at Gimbel Eye Centre (both Calgary and Edmonton), the only change will be the location of the CATARACT surgery. This decision does not affect our refractive surgery in any way.

* The decision also only affects ALBERTA patients. We will continue to provide cataract surgery to out-of-province and out-of-country patients at Gimbel Eye Centre in Calgary and Edmonton.

This decision saddens us deeply. If you have concerns or an opinion about this decision, here are some options for you. You can call or email your MLA, and/or the health minister, and/or the premier.
In May, they posted the following:
May 21, 2010

Calgary – Gimbel Eye Centre believes the Alberta Health Services (AHS) decision to fund an additional 1,400 cataract surgeries over the next four months, and up to an additional 120 corneal transplants this year, is positive news for Albertans.

“We, along with many others, have been encouraging the Minister to focus funding where wait lists are the longest. Patients waiting for their surgeon-of-choice will benefit from this announcement,” says Dr. Howard Gimbel, Executive Medical Director of Gimbel Eye Centre, and one of it’s four surgeons. “This is an important step toward an interim solution addressing long waiting lists for cataract surgery.”

The new surgical blitz is aimed at reducing long wait times for cataract surgeries, with 1000 surgeries designated for Calgary and 400 surgeries assigned to Edmonton.

Cataract service providers have two weeks to respond to an Expression of Interest document distributed on May 20, 2010. According to the AHS news release, contracts will be awarded to all approved, accredited facilities interested in providing the service within the guidelines stipulated and with the understanding that the surgeries will be completed by September 30, 2010.

Gimbel Eye Centre will be responding positively to the Expression of Interest document and hopes that at least some of their patients will be able to have their cataract surgeries in both its Calgary and Edmonton surgical centres. Gimbel Eye Centre patients have been having their cataract surgeries at another surgical facility in Calgary and Edmonton since AHS began limiting the facilities that could perform surgeries as of April 1, 2010.

“We will continue to participate in the consultation process that the Minister has initiated. We believe that patients deserve the freedom to choose their surgeon as well as the surgical facility where it is provided,” adds Dr. Gimbel.

Family owned and operated, Gimbel Eye Centre offers patients the full range of options for vision correction surgery available today. Trusted by Canadians since 1964, Gimbel Eye Centre has performed over 200,000 procedures and is one of the most experienced vision correction centres in the world, with locations in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.
Now what do we read in the news today?
EDMONTON - An additional 1,500 people from the Edmonton area will be getting cataract surgeries before March 31 as the province continues to roll out one-time surgical blitzes to reduce wait times.

Alberta Health Services will be spending $1.6 million from its existing budget to perform the additional Edmonton surgeries, plus 1,550 in Calgary, another 120 in Grande Prairie and 60 in Lethbridge. Cataract surgeries are also regularly performed in 13 other Alberta communities.

“Combined with prior blitzes, we have significantly increased the number of cataract procedures done in Alberta this year,” said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky in a news release. “With predictable five-year funding for health care, we continue to add more surgeries to reduce wait times for high-priority procedures.”

Previous blitzes targeted people needing urgent cancer, heart, joint, brain, eye or gynecological surgeries, as well as hip and knee replacements. Wait times for these medical procedures were a huge pressure point in the province.
Micromanaging blunder after micromanaging blunder, you'd think that eventually somebody might clue in that public healthcare (being a political, not an economic, beast) just plain doesn't work. No matter how many more millions spent, no matter how many new plans are concocted, its the same disaster striking every few months.

Hey, what have we here? Gimbel used to do cataract surgeries 3,000 times per year until the province's health bureaucrats forced him to drop that number to 500. And since Gimbel can no longer do private cataract surgeries outside the system, the cases build up and build up, until the taxpayer has to pay to fix the problem that Gimbel was already fixing.

Get rid of public healthcare, and watch these cataract and ER and cancer crises dissolve in the aether.