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President’s Message: January 2022

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The last few years have been disruptive, to say the least. We have been passionate and reactive regarding government policy and pandemic response. It feels like we have been distracted from advancing our long-term goals and vision, but we have made advancements on a few priorities. However, let us not despair, as the new calendar year gives us an opportunity to plan, prepare, and be more intentional in the months ahead.

We are often discouraged by failure to reach specific, time-based goals especially when it comes to working with others who have different goals. Therefore, the ACFP team has been working on setting broad intentions for 2022, especially for our lobbying and advocacy efforts. So today, we are sharing ACFP’s Top 5 Advocacy Intentions we have been working on that have begun to gain traction and some new ones that we have prioritized, and now you can hold us accountable!

ACFP’S Top 5 Advocacy Intentions

Here is what we are talking with our partners and government about:

  1. Looking forward and building for the Future of Family Medicine in a rapidly evolving environment that attracts and retains the best of the profession to be a part of Alberta’s well-resourced primary care system. (There is lots of work and advocacy for all of us to do here!)
  2. Transparent and collaborative integrated system planning during the pandemic and through to endemicity, where family medicine, primary care, public health, pharmacy, AHS provincial and community-based programs, and government all work together to improve access to COVID-19 care, testing, safety, guidance, and treatment options. (We have made some progress here, but we cannot stop putting pressure on. Respectful collaboration works!)
  3. Innovations such as virtual care will advance timely access to teams within the Patient’s Medical Home and support patients currently without a medical home in the health system as we establish solutions for the pandemic response, a depleted workforce, increased complexity in patient health, all resulting in a significant care deficit. (New fee codes in place will help make this item easier to advance however, we still need to advocate for capacity building and infrastructure.)
  4. Death from drug poisoning is prioritized as a public health and primary care issue that will require integrated system planning focused on improving access to supervised consumption services, consideration of safe supply, and the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. (Ideology gets in our way here. We need to stop the deaths and devastation of our communities.)
  5. Excellence in managing complexity in primary care will require new delivery models that allow highly resourced family practices, Primary Care Networks, and other community programs to rethink and redesign using public input and the best available evidence to create continuous and compassionate care close to home for the most vulnerable and complex patients. (Complexity is our new normal, we cannot continue to use the same systems to successfully respond, innovation, collaboration, and a willingness to adapt are essential.)

Disruption causes strategic innovation and removes barriers whether they are real or perceived. We have an opportunity this year to advance so many aspirations and challenge the processes we have been stuck in for so long.

Set your own intentions for 2022 and take advantage of the disruption. Let us help you by letting us know what you need in your practice and within the system to provide excellent care to your community and your patients.

Gratefully yours,

Sudha Koppula BSc, MD, MClSc, CCFP, FCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians

Terri Potter
Executive Director
Alberta College of Family Physicians

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My name is Smitha Yaltho and I feel privileged to work as a family physician. Why? I believe that being a family physician has been the best job any physician can hope to have. I have personally grown in my own abilities and skill-sets with diverse opportunities in ambulatory practice, acute care and work in Facility Living.  Working in primary care has been exciting and has also afforded me tremendous opportunities for growth while still remaining stimulating in its complexity.  I believe that Family physicians are trusted partners in patient care –  every step of the way. 

Why are you volunteering to serve on this committee?
I currently have an interest in Physician Leadership and  trauma informed care.  I have served as a director with the Board of Directors with the Edmonton North PCN, Edmonton’s largest PCN. Thereafter, I have worked as the Director of Medical Services with CapitalCare (also based in Edmonton) for almost 6 years. It is my express wish that my contribution on the ACFP board of directors will highlight the excellence of family medicine that exists right here and now within the Alberta health care system. 

What about the ACFP’s work do you find most valuable?
Ability to highlight and further support the excellence of primary care right here in Alberta.