News | DrumhellerMail - Page #2175
Last updateFri, 17 Aug 2018 11am

Pharmacist cuts could disadvantage rural Albertans



  The most accessible health care professional, the one that Albertans have said they are most satisfied with, are facing cutbacks that will reduce services to patients.
    Paul Ainscough, pharmacist and owner of Riverside Value Drug Mart says heath care cuts will affect Drumheller residents.
    “The total reduction in health costs comes directly from the pharmacists," said Ainscough. "In 1992 when Klein had his cutbacks, the pharmacists took a big cut then, and we have never recovered from that. It is going to get to the point that rural pharmacies will not survive."
    Alan Hodgins, CEO of Value Drug Mart Associates Ltd., an organization of 57 independently owned and operated community pharmacies, primarily operating in rural Alberta, believes that Phase Two of the Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy (APS) will cause most community pharmacies to cut services to their patients.
    “The APS cuts funding to community pharmacies substantially. I know the government is in a deficit situation and they need to look for savings, but this is going to cripple community pharmacies. For years, pharmacists have stepped up to the plate to fill in gaps in the public health system, especially in rural Alberta. Yes, pharmacists fill your prescriptions quickly and accurately but they also intervene when that prescription is not appropriate. You can walk up to them without an appointment and ask about your health related concerns, without a long wait. Many pharmacies deliver medications to individuals who are not well enough to make a visit to the pharmacy. They work with homecare nurses to keep people in their homes and out of hospitals. They work with physicians to optimize patients’ medication therapies. And all of these services are provided to the public without any direct compensation to the pharmacy or the pharmacist.”
    Outside of revenues associated with the sale of prescriptions, community pharmacist services are not compensated through any other mechanism. Pharmacies are not allowed to put a mark-up on drugs; they obtain a dispensing fee and are able to negotiate allowances from generic manufacturers.
    “I think most pharmacists would agree that the current compensation model for pharmacy services does not properly reflect the services pharmacists provide. We agree that the model needs to change. But, taking $200 million out of current revenues for community pharmacy services, cannot be replaced by future promises of $50 million for professional services,” Hodgins explains.
    Hodgins suggests that unless the Government gets the identified “transition” plan right, pharmacists, pharmacies and patients will suffer. “Our pharmacists are not in any type of position to be able to do any more work for less. The cuts outlined will hurt health service delivery to individual rural Albertans. There is an opportunity to get this right, but what we’ve seen announced on Tuesday isn’t right--and the unfortunate reality is that it is patients who will suffer the most.”

Toby heads to seeing eye dog training college


    Kim McCulley is bidding a fond farewell to her companion who has been at her heel for the last 17 months.
    Many in the valley have come to recognize Toby. The tall lean Black Labrador, often  wearing a white pinnie showing he is working,  McCulley has been raising Toby since he was a pup for future use as a Seeing Eye Dog.
    On Tuesday he boarded a flight to Vancouver where he will be entering college.
    “The time flies, and it was lots of fun,” said McCulley. “He is doing excellent, they expect him to be a star.”
    McCulley and Toby have been working together on basic skills, and have been attending training. Toby is now mature enough to enter the final phase of intense training. It is  bitter sweet for McCulley.
    “It’s tough, but we expect they are going to leave, and when they do you hope they are confident and they have no problems,” she says with a grin. “You hate to have nagged him for 17 months for nothing.”
    She believes Toby is ready. He has an even temperament and has done well with his training. Basic skills such as indicating doors and stairs are well entrenched. She says without his bib he loves to play like any other dog. The Newcastle Ball Diamonds have become Toby’s stomping ground where he revels in the endless supply of windfall that was knocked from the trees following the September windstorm. When he is in uniform he is all business. Having said that, seeing eye dogs take pride in their work and  are happy to serve.
    McCulley’s relationship with Toby will endure. She says she will be able to keep track of him throughout his training, and often  the new owners are generous sharing how he is doing.
    “It’s not like I am losing him, I still get to hear how he does, and the clients send letters and photos, so it’s not like I’ll never get to see him,” she said.
    For Toby now comes five months of intensive 9-5 training before he starts his service.
    McCulley says the Town of Drumheller has been very supportive to make sure he is a healthy, happy dog with no issues.
    “He’s been everywhere with me, to the doctor and grocery store. Everywhere I go, he went with me,” she said.
    McCulley has enjoyed the experience of raising Toby and hopes to continue. She is eligible to act as a foster to another seeing eye dog in the future, and if given the chance, she will take in another dog to raise.

Downtown Drumheller has changes to annual Halloween programs


    Downtown Drumheller is hosting the 6th annual Trick or Treating this Saturday. Last year 600 children, along with their parents, walked the streets downtown where more than 50 businesses handed out candy and treats. Several businesses have given out treats other than candy and children were able to have their photo taken in their costumes.
    This year the Haunted House will be held at the Worlds Largest Dinosaur, in the Chamber offices from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Trick or treating downtown will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday October 31, although some businesses will close at 5.
    This year there will be pumpkin carving contest at DARTS, however, it will not be on Halloween it will be the day before on Friday, October 30. You can drop off your pumpkins on Friday, October 30 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. for judging.
    During the Dragons game on Saturday, October 31 at the Memorial arena there will be a costume contest sponsored by the Chinook Credit Union.

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