Alberta EMS Senior Vice President Sue Conroy spoke with Fast Forward for this week’s article about EMS concerns. Though she was not able to speak before the story went to print, a transcript of the interview is available here:
Reporter: I’m looking for some response from the government and AHS the survey and what is going to happen now.
Sue Conroy: Alberta Health Services actually has responsibility for operations for EMS in the province. I just want to be sure you’re aware of that, I’m not speaking on behalf of government. Very good. So you’re aware of the survey, and again just to reiterate, so, the survey was done by HSAA and in, of the staff in the Edmonton Metro area.
So I guess I want to begin by saying that I certainly do take the feedback from the staff seriously, and as you just mentioned we are working with the union to – there will be, we are establishing a committee, as you referred to. That’s going to give us a good opportunity to work together, and also to engage the staff to look at the issues that were identified and to put in initiatives moving forward to be able to address the concerns that were raised.
Were the concerns that were raised – were they (AHS) surprised when AHS did receive them?
Actually, we’ve been working with the staff, the local leadership there, and working with the staff and in fact had a number of initiatives in place to engage the staff and get feedback from the staff in a variety of ways through, sort of management staff sessions.
So at where there could be staff drop-in and either specific topics discussed, or just hearing directly from the staff. So, some concerns.
You know, I think we were aware that there were some concerns, and in fact starting to understand them and to move forward working on them.
Is staff morale among all AHS employees (ie doctors, nurses) something you guys are working on proactively to do something about? Something specific about?
I actually I can’t speak for staff across the system. What I can say though is that staff engagement is extremely important to Alberta Health Services, and in fact we, there’s been a lot of attention and a lot of focus in how best, how to engage staff and get staff input and for staff to enjoy their work place. So I can definitely say that that’s a responsibility for all of us and a priority for all of us for Alberta Health Services.
AHS staff seems to have a lot of trepidation about coming forward and being publicly identified when they have a complaint or issue. Is AHS concerned with staff worrying about reprisals for speaking publicly, and is that a concern you would address?
Again, I can speak for EMS, and I think I’ll speak specifically for Edmonton and I would say that – well I think provincially within EMS we encourage staff to be open with their concerns that they have and with ideas that they have to improve care and to improve the workplace and service delivery. I personally, actually, and our leadership, actually, go into the field and try to meet with staff as often as we can. And encourage that feedback, because that is important. We need to understand what their experience is, and then work together in looking at solutions and to move service delivery and patient care forward.