Strategic Advisory Panel

Members identified opportunities to improve primary health care in Alberta.

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Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System

Overview

The Strategic Advisory Panel made recommendations to transform Alberta’s primary health care system.

The panel brought together local health care leaders, patients and experts to work with Indigenous Panel and International Expert Panel members to identify immediate and long term recommendations for making improvements, monitoring progress on initiatives and reducing pressure on the acute care system.

Recommendations from the panel will support the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System initiative to strengthen primary health care in Alberta and ensure all Albertans have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services.

Timeline

  • Open

  • Results under review

  • Completed

    Final report released October 2023

Who is listening

Ministry of Health

Mandate

The Strategic Advisory Panel submitted a final report that includes a recommended strategy to modernize Alberta's primary health care system. The panel's work was guided by the following goals:

  • Access - All Albertans have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services from a regular provider or team. Care options are flexible and reflect individual and population health needs.
  • Integration - Every Albertan has a health home that provides primary health care services and seamless transitions to other health, social and community services. 
  • Quality - Albertans receive high quality services from an accountable, innovative and sustainable primary health care system. Health service delivery is evidence informed, follows best practices and uses resources efficiently.
  • Albertans as partners - Albertans are partners in achieving their health and wellness goals. Health services are proactive, recognize and address underlying influences on health outcomes, and respect individual needs and preferences.
  • Culturally safe and appropriate care - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples have access to high quality, culturally safe care designed and delivered in a manner that respects their unique health care needs.

The panel has finished their work and presented their report to government.

Outcomes

Recommendations from the Strategic Advisory Panel will help inform improvements to Alberta's primary health care system over the next 10 years.

We moved forward with historical funding commitments in February 2023 that included early investments to strengthen the primary health care system.

The panel's final report contains 11 recommendations to refocus the system around primary health care with an emphasis on:

  • access to team-based care
  • integration between primary health care and community care
  • a foundation of a coordinated and accountable primary health care system

Members

The Strategic Advisory Panel was comprised of members with expertise in primary health care, health systems transformation and Alberta’s primary health care system.

Dr. Brad Bahler, co-chair

Dr. Brad Bahler is a practicing physician in Sylvan Lake Alberta, where he continues to practice comprehensive family medicine including obstetrics, hospital care, geriatrics, and palliative care while working with the health care team at the Sylvan Family Health Centre. His roles have included Medical Director for Primary Care Network Evolution, Senior Medical Director of the Primary Health Care Integration Network, and he has worked with Primary Care Networks, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health on multiple initiatives designed to improve the way the system can support the citizens of Alberta. Dr. Bahler currently is the Chair of the Primary Care Alliance.

Dr. Janet Reynolds, co-chair

Dr. Janet Reynolds is a family physician at Crowfoot Village Family Practice in Calgary and the Medical Director for the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network. Dr. Reynolds completed her Medical degree from the University of Saskatchewan, eventually moving to Ottawa to complete her Family Medicine training at the University of Ottawa. Her experience includes both urban and rural settings, and she currently is a Family Medicine advisor to Choosing Wisely - a campaign to reduce unnecessary testing, treatment and procedures for patients.

Dr. Linda Slocombe, Panellist

Dr. Slocombe is a Family Physician in Calgary, Alberta and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Calgary. Clinically she continues to provide Low Risk Obstetrics care at Riley Park Maternity Clinic in Calgary. Previous roles have included most recently Medical Director for Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network and Chair of the Calgary zone Specialty Integration Task Group. Past experience includes many roles with the Canadian Medical Association and Alberta Medical Association including Vice-Chair of the CMA Board from 2014-2018 and President of the Alberta Medical Association from 2011-2012.

Alison Ross, Panellist

Alison is a DNP-prepared Nurse Practitioner (NP) with 20 years of experience in a variety of nursing and leadership roles.  In the last 10 years, she has supported the Alberta Health Services North Zone Chronic Disease Management and Primary Care teams in roles that allowed for a blend of leadership and clinical practice roles.  Her doctoral QI project trialled the delivery of virtual primary care to patients in a remote indigenous community.  The project so successful it resulted in the development of other NP positions in North Zone to deliver this type of care.  She spent more than half her career living and working in remote communities throughout the country, which has provided a unique understanding of the challenges that face Albertans and clinicians in North Zone.  She has welcomed the opportunity to use her knowledge and experience from other jurisdictions and health systems to support the delivery of fiscally responsible, evidence-based care that empowers patients and builds their capacity for self-management.  She looks to continue applying these principles at a systems level in an innovative and transparent manner that will help restore Albertans trust in their healthcare system and allow our teams to deliver care with pride.

Yvonne Chiu, Panellist

Yvonne is one of the founding members of the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op in Edmonton.  The MCHB Co-op is an award winning workers co-operative own and operated by ethnocultural community health workers. It was established to address health inequity and social issues experienced by ethnocultural community members, their families and communities. 

Yvonne has spent the last three decades revealing the life realities, struggles, hopes and strengths of this population of Albertans.  

She has focused on promoting two effective evidence-based practice models that lead to health equity of this population: “community health worker” model and “cultural brokering” practice (a practice that addresses the “cultural and relational gap” between formal systems and marginalized communities).

Prior to this, Yvonne had worked as a Settlement Counsellor in Edmonton’s Chinatown, a Social Development Officer at the Alberta Multiculturalism Commission, and a Health Promotion Practitioner with Community Health of Alberta Health Services.

Dr. Joseph Ojedokun, Panellist

Dr. Joseph Ojedokun initially trained in Surgery and then in Family Medicine in Ireland before moving to Whitecourt, Alberta, about 10 years ago. He understands that change is inevitable in the current social and healthcare landscape but that not every change leads to an improvement. Dr. Ojedokun’s passion lies as a rural primary care physician. He believes in positive change through true advocacy, change that involves the people, patients, physicians, support staff, and the whole community. In his over 23 years of Practice, Dr. Ojedokun has contributed to various initiatives such as the recent Alberta Surgical Initiative to improve healthcare systems. As an early adopter, he is practical and realistic, and believes his influence on a network of primary care physicians as the North Zone Physician Champion affords the opportunity to add valuable practical wisdom to this initiative.

Dr. Shahnaz Sadiq, Panellist

Dr. Shahnaz Sadiq is a primary healthcare physician who co-owns and operates Royal Oak Medical Clinic in the NW Calgary community. She is practicing along with team of 6 other family physicians, a paediatrician, BHC and HMN from Foothills PCN that serve a diverse patient population.

As an international medical graduate from Pakistan, She completed her 2 years family medicine residency program from University of Alberta.

Prior to her residency at UofA Dr. Sadiq worked as a clinical associate in the FMC epilepsy program.

Dr. Sadiq served AIMGA as director at large and then as president in Calgary advocating for reforms in Alberta health care system and approaches for efficient integration of foreign medical graduates, presenting even in Ottawa and providing 10 recommendations to a committee in the House of Commons.

Joy Peacock, Panellist

Joy is the CEO and Registrar at the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA), the regulatory body of Alberta’s 40,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners (NPs). 

Her experience leading large, diverse groups through complex change has provided policy and regulation oversight, program development, and innovative changes to healthcare regulation at both the provincial and national levels. For many years, Joy worked in various clinical practice areas and went on to hold healthcare leadership positions in Ontario, BC, Yukon, and Alberta. In the Yukon Territory, Joy was responsible for introducing the regulation and implementation of NPs into the healthcare setting. Prior to CRNA, Joy served as Executive Director of two provincial nursing organizations; one in the Yukon and the other in British Columbia. 

Joy currently serves on the board of the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators (CCRNR) and the Executive Committee and board of the Alberta Federation of Regulated Health Professionals.

Cheryl Andres, Panellist

Cheryl Andres has been a nurse in Alberta for 36 years; graduating with a Baccalaureate Degree from the University of Lethbridge in 1987 and more recently completing a Master’s Degree in Community Health Sciences with a minor in Health Economics from the University of Calgary in 2015. The focus of her thesis has been on continuity of care. 

Cheryl’s nursing career has taken her across the province and through a variety of nursing roles and experiences including front-line work and leadership roles in palliative care, community care (home care), transitional care, seniors’ health, acute care, public health, primary health care and chronic disease.  As the former Director of Chronic Disease Management and Public & Primary Health Care with Alberta Health Services in the South Zone (2016-2021), Cheryl has managed health programs, teams and supports for the South Zone.  

She is passionate about Primary Health Care; system integration and reform.

Judy Birdsell, Panellist

Judy is one of the founders of Imagine Citizens Network (ICN) a Society whose mission is to enhance citizens’ ability to become valued partners in improving healthcare experiences and outcomes for all Albertans. 

She has always had a deep commitment to patient perspectives in health, as demonstrated by more than 30 years volunteering in leadership positions with several national non-profits.

Her passion for this cause was further fueled by a series of events surrounding her sister’s death in 2006. Her personal consciousness having been raised by these events, her family and her have experienced many other situations that have reinforced the absolute necessity of citizens (who are sometimes patients) being much more knowledgeable and engaged in their own healthcare journey (and that of their communities).

She is a Patient Safety Champion (Canada) and was deeply honoured to be named to the Order of Canada in 2020.

Dr. Jordan LaRue, Panellist

Dr. LaRue took the role of the Central Zone PCN Physician Lead Executive (PLE) in 2018 after leading his local PCN for 3 years. In addition to participating in the development of the PCN governance structure, he co-chaired the Rural Sustainability Task Force, which was commissioned by the Minister of Health in 2021. Through his PLE role, he also sits at the Primary Care Alliance.

He has practiced family medicine at Sylvan Family Health Centre since he graduated from the University of Alberta Rural Alberta North residency program, Red Deer site in 2011. Additionally, he works in both the Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care (where he is also the Facility Medical Director), as well as the Red Deer Regional Hospital Hospitalist service. He spent 3 years as the site co-director for his former residency program, and was the site coordinator for yearly ICC students for 4 years. He strives to balance his professional life with investing in family and friends, and enjoys taking his dogs for walks, all forms of biking, and is becoming a solar nut.

Stacey Strilchuk, Panellist

Stacey Strilchuk is a healthcare executive with over 25 years’ experience in the government, healthcare and not for profit sector.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alberta and has extensive leadership training in the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Model.

At present, Ms. Strilchuk serves as the President of College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) Council and has been given a second term starting in January 2023.  She is committed to the CPSA’s mandate to protect the public and ensuring regulated members are consistently providing safe, competent care.   

Ms. Strilchuk is a proponent of servant leadership and is thankful for the continued support of her husband Dan, a proud Alberta farmer and their Labrador Retriever Bodhi (A.K.A. Walk Coordinator and Debrief Specialist).

Dr. Rithesh Ram, Panellist

Dr. Ram is formally trained as a family physician, but his passion is that of a rural generalist in Drumheller, Alberta. Aside from his Doctor of Medicine, he has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary.

Dr Ram is passionate about teaching with clinical appointments at both the U of C and the U of A. He is also Director of the UCLIC Program (University of Calgary Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship) which is a research-based, educational experience that allows medical students to learn in the continuum of patient care throughout southern Alberta.

Dr. Ram is highly involved in many leadership roles locally, provincially and nationally including treasurer of his PCN, President-Elect of the Alberta Medical Association Section of Rural Medicine, former chair of the Alberta Medical Association’s Health Issues Council, and former Provincial Knowledge Lead for Primary Care for Connect Care / CKCN.

A medical entrepreneur, in 2017 Dr. Ram opened an award winning and highly recognized patient medical home, primary care practice in Drumheller, Riverside Medical, winning Business Professional of the Year due to that accomplishment. The practice, as well as Dr. Ram, have been subsequently recognized numerous times from various organizations, and is currently a finalist for a national medical innovation award.

Robert (Bob) Schulz, Panellist

Although a Business PhD and not a medical doctor, many former students (including medical doctors) use “Dr. Bob“ as a nickname. Bob Schulz is a Professor of Strategy and Global Management with the Haskayne School of  Business at the University of Calgary for the past 50 years. He has received 26 outstanding teaching and service awards, including top-10 teaching professor among >39,000 Canadian professors in all disciplines, and was the first recipient of the Order of the University of Calgary for his service to others. As a coach, his students have won >120 national and international case and innovation competitions, which is likely a global record. 

“Dr. Bob” has four degrees, including a BSc (Engineering) from Notre Dame and Ph.D. (Business) from Ohio State University. He serves on the Board for the Global Innovation Management Institute, the world’s largest innovation certifier for ISO 56002. He is well-known as a “super-connector” and shares an ecosystem of astute former students, business leaders, and innovative health/wellness experts in Alberta and beyond.   

Dr. June Bergman, Panellist

Dr. Bergman is mostly retired since 2020 but had been in active full service practice in Calgary since 1973, providing care to a panel of 1200 patients until 2009. Prior to that she worked in various locations within Ontario setting up services in an emergency department in Belleville, Ontario and in a remote northern community. She has been involved in training residents for over 15 years, and in 1994 she became affiliated with the university and in 2010 retired as an Associate Professor Emeritus. 

Dr. Bergman has served in the Calgary health region as the Department Head for Family Medicine, Calgary General Hospital; first clinical department head for the Calgary Health Region; Medical Director for the Calgary Primary Care Initiative; and is the past chair of the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network of which she was a founding member. She has been involved in developing many programs and models of care including, low risk maternity care, 8th and 8th, a first 24/7 free standing urgent care clinic in Calgary, hospitalist models (3), shared mental health care, shared care chronic disease management and the development of primary care networks.  Most recently she was involved clinically in the development of enhanced teams to support care of the fragile patient, chronic pain patient and other complex patients within the context of a medical home and primary care networks.

Dr. Cathy Scrimshaw, Panellist

Dr. Scrimshaw did her medical training at the University of Calgary and her rural family medicine residency at Memorial University in Newfoundland. She worked on Fogo Island, Newfoundland and in the Yukon and, for the past twenty-eight years, has had the privilege of providing comprehensive rural family medical care to residents of Pincher Creek and the Piikani First Nation. In January 2021, Cathy stepped away from her clinical practice, and started working with the Alberta College of Family Physicians on the Alberta COVID pandemic response as well as continuing the development of the Collaborative Mentorship Network for Chronic Pain and Addiction. Cathy and her husband Gordon live in Beaver Mines, Alberta. Pre-Covid, they enjoyed travelling and doing photography in the high latitude regions of the world, and are looking forward to getting back to that again soon. They have an amazing daughter, and are enjoying their first granddaughter while anxiously awaiting a new arrival this summer.

Dr. Jon Hilner, Panellist

Jon Hilner is a family doctor in St. Albert and Acting President of the Section of Family Medicine at the Alberta Medical Association. He has twin girls and believes that investment and innovation in primary care now are crucial for their future, and the health of all Albertans. Dr. Hilner works to improve practice efficiency through creative IT solutions, uses data to drive practice quality initiatives, and has experience in business systems design of the Blended Capitation Model in his medical home at the Grandin Clinic. He is a contributor to the Primary Care Alliance 10-year vision paper for primary care and has worked on the board of the St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network and the Provincial Physician Leads Executive for PCNs. Dr. Hilner is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and is a member of the national CMA grant funded Equity in Medicine group.

Dr. Robert Warren, Panellist

Dr. Robert G. Warren is a rural family physician and one of the founders and owners of the Moose & Squirrel Medical Clinic in Sundre, which has been recognized as the Outstanding Family Practice in Alberta by the Alberta College of Family Physicians, and nationally recognized as a successful example of a practice operating as a Patient’s Medical Home by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Dr. Warren has provided primary care under various different models in Alberta, British Columbia, the North-West Territories and New Zealand. At his clinic in Sundre, Dr. Warren works alongside a Physician Assistant, a Nurse Practitioner, a social worker, mental health professionals, an exercise specialist and several nurses as well as his physician colleagues in a team-based model of primary care. He also provides inpatient and emergency medicine care as part of the team at the Sundre Hospital, cares for residents at the Sundre Seniors Supportive Living Facility, and provides patient care at the Caroline Medical Clinic.

Dr. Warren is a strong advocate for rural health care, having previously served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alberta Rural Health Professions Action Plan, and currently serving as an executive member of the Section of Rural Medicine of the Alberta Medical Association. He also has a passion for rural medical education and has served as Site Co-Director for the Rural Family Medicine Residency training program in Red Deer, as well as Rural Assistant Program Director for the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta.

Karen McDonald, Panellist

Karen has 23 years of experience in the seniors’ services sector, including a decade in seniors’ supportive housing and 13 years with the Sage Seniors Association, most recently as Executive Director. In 2015, Karen co-founded MatchWork, an interactive employment training and assessment tool used by employment support organizations to more effectively guide and support those who face barriers to employment, including older workers and caregivers. Amongst many volunteer and leadership positions, Karen is a member of the Board with the Muttart Foundation, and the Chair of the Community Leadership Council for Healthy Aging Alberta, working towards the further development of the community-based seniors’ services sector in Alberta. Karen holds a BA and an MBA from the University of Alberta. 

Dale Cooney, Panellist

Dale Cooney is the Executive Director of the Alberta Federation of Regulated Health Professions (AFRHP), an organization of Alberta’s thirty (30) health profession regulatory colleges. AFRHP is a forum where health profession colleges can share information and best practices. The federation works to enhance public protection, advance health care regulation, and provide expertise and leadership on health and related policy. A pharmacist by training, Dale completed a Master’s in Business Administration and has earned the Professional Certified Coach designation from the International Coach Federation.  Dale has over 25 years of experience in front-line and senior leadership positions in health care and health profession regulation including thirteen (13) years as the Deputy Registrar of the Alberta College of Pharmacy and two temporary assignments as the CEO/Registrar of the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta.

Tim Murphy, Panellist

Tim Murphy has more than 30 years of senior executive leadership experience in the health care sector. Currently, he is the Vice President, Health at Alberta Innovates and prior to this role, he was the Vice President, Provincial Platforms and SPOR.  Prior to joining Alberta Innovates, Tim established an independent consulting practice and worked with clients such as: the CHILD Foundation, the Institute for Health System Transformation and Sustainability, and the Movember Foundation.   His other roles include being the inaugural Senior Vice President at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR)‐ a provincial research organization based in Vancouver, and 10 years in senior management positions with two comprehensive Academic Oncology Centres‐ Princess Margaret Hospital (1992‐1997) and the British Columbia Cancer Agency (1997‐2002). Tim holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, Life Sciences from Queen's University (1989); a Master of Health Administration from the University of Toronto (1992); and a Master of Business Administration from Queen's University (2006). In 2007, he received his Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.

Christine Hughes, Panellist

Christine Hughes is a Professor and Interim Dean in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta.  She earned a Bachelors of Science in Pharmacy at the University of Alberta and a Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of British Columbia.  She joined the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1997, and has held a number of administrative appointments since that time.  She has also worked as a clinical pharmacist with the Northern Alberta Program as part of an interdisciplinary team. Christine has been very active in professional activities and advisory groups, particularly related to sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI).  Her scholarly interests include research evaluating expansion of pharmacists' roles in primary care settings, including prevention and screening of STBBI.