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Sunday, November 01, 2009

ron liepert sending mixed messages on h1n1.

I was hesitant to write about the Government of Alberta's organization of H1N1 vaccinations because I did not want to make light, or political, of an important public health issue. Tonight, after reading and listening to Health Minister Ron Liepert's mixed messages on the H1N1 vaccinations, I cannot help but think that he might just making it up as he goes along.

I suspect that a large part of the communications problem may be Minister Liepert himself. The man is a blunt instrument and his track record of irrational confrontation probably does not make him the best person to be the public face of the fight against H1N1. I would suggest that a gentler face, like Urban Affairs and Housing Minister Yvonne Fritz, a former nurse and veteran MLA, would probably make a better public face for the Government of Alberta's handling of H1N1. I was impressed with how Fritz's handled the H1N1-related questions she was asked in Question Period last week.

I want to have confidence that our government will be prepared to deal with the H1N1 situation if it becomes worse. I have confidence in the health care professionals who are implementing the vaccination plans, but Minister Liepert's mixed messaging is making me believe less so of our elected officials.

(ht to Chris Labossiere, who has also written about Alberta's H1N1 situation)


Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) said...

Dave, I think all Albertans share your wanting to feel confidence in the government's ability to deal with the H1N1 situation.

Polly Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Polly Jones said...

I learned this evening that my very close friend who is pregnant contracted the swine flu.

Liepert is intellectually stunted.
He said something about not wanting to be all "Soviet Union like" with regards to monitoring lines for high-risk groups. Is presenting one's health care card soviet-like when we attend a lab? What would be wrong with presenting a prescription bottle? How about simply having signs to remind people of the high-risk categories?

The whole thing has smacked of Darwinian sentiments. Imagine making chemo patients fight it out in lines against healthy adults.

He has said that he refuses to say a mistake was made citing the number of people vaccinated versus other provinces. I would like to know the percentage of high-risk people vaccinated versus other provinces.

Here is a link to my blog post and a t.v. interview I did with CBC:

Anonymous said...

Even if your pregnant friend had had the vaccination there still hasn't been enough time yet to develop the immunity and therefor would have still contracted H1N1 even if they had it on the first day...

However, and having said that, this is a huge debacle. This should have been far better planned for and controlled.

Anonymous said...

Your post is a very fair and balanced assessment. Wanted to ask you Dave if you picked up on the fact that Dr. Gerry Predy has now been recorded in an interview as saying to the effect of "on direction from Alberta Health" that the clinics have been closed till further notice.

That statement is civil service code for 'I am being told what to do.'

I wonder who really is calling the shots here ? So much for accountability and transparency.

Stu said...

How about some of the totally healthy Albertans who are not in the high risk groups taking their own responsibility for getting in line ahead of those that needed it first? I'm in my 30s and healthy, I stayed away from the clinics because that was what I was suppose to do.

So the government should be blamed for having faith in the public to do the right thing?

Polly Jones said...

The opening of the high-risk clinic on Tuesday sent a message that the other clinics were open to all.

Anonymous, she may have still have gotten ill, but at least she would know that the community had done its best to protect her.

Why is there such an empathy deficit in this bloody province?

calgary clipper said...

I would like to know who exactly it was that signed off on the chosen H1N1 policy/implementation. Agreed - Liepert certainly is not the right person for marketing. Is/was it Liepert himself, the Caucus, The Super Board, the Bureaucrats, or who among them.

Lorne said...

My feelings have been that Darwinian sentiment has been behind every decision that this government has made. From education to healthcare, human rights to employment, it is the survival of the fittest. If the resources run out due to their poor planning, move back to your place of origen or just move on and try to survive by pulling up your own bootstraps.

Anonymous said...

The best thing that the ALP and the PCs can do about the crisis right now is to give leaves of absence to Fritz, Sherman and Pastoor and anyone else that can punch a needle through skin. Send them to the front lines to inoculate as many as they can. Needles in arms are more important than placing blame (and there is lots to go around). No one could blame them for being useless politicians (at least for a season).

Art said...

Note to Anon 9:49 - get real, there isn't any vaccine for anyone to inject thanks to the government.

The Tories in the leg, and on this board, are looking to blame anyone else they can for their incompetence.

Alberta is one of the only province's that didn't ration the vaccine for high risk persons first and foremost. And we ran out as a result without those groups being covered. We all remember the Premier's reaction when Brian Mason asked him about the homeless.

If it's really the fault of senior public health officials (and remember most of them were kicked out last year) then why isn't Liepert firing anyone? I suspect the decisions were made by him, or at least with his approval - so he has no one to blame but himself.

These guys can't run a lemonade stand.

Peter's Pan said...

Let's not forget that even when we do get more vaccine, we don't have the nurses to administer it.

After declaring the nursing shortage over, Liepert has allowed 1100 nursing postings to go unfilled while new graduates move to other provinces for jobs. BC has been particularly eager to take them.

Nice work boys.

Anonymous said...

Stu wrote:
How about some of the totally healthy Albertans who are not in the high risk groups taking their own responsibility for getting in line ahead of those that needed it first?

But they were told by their health minister and their Premier that it was their civic duty to do exactly what they did. The responsibility for this mess rests with those at the top.

Stu said...

No, I was told to get a flu shot if I was high risk? I followed directions and take the spot of someone who was.
I guess I shouldn't have so little faith in the public. Maybe more of them should vote NDP like me.

Anonymous said...

Sure we got more people vaccinated than any other province. That is simply because while the other provinces were working on fancy things like "plans", we just when with "first come, first served". Once they opened a "High risk clinic" that sent a pretty clear message that the other clinics were "Not High Risk". Also, lets not forget that in Calgary, while we don't have enough for the high risk groups or essential workers like police and firefighters, we do have enough for the Calgary Flames!

From the start, Alberta has run the worst system in Canada.

I have a 3 year old with bad asthma and a pregnant wife that I had to get shots for. As someone who waited in the cold for hours with health care workers constantly telling me that we would not get in, I am fed up. At this point, I would happily fire everyone at the top of this clusterf---.