The province’s new single health authority now has an official name – and a place to call home.
Saskatoon has been selected to host the head office for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Health Minister Jim Reiter and Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit made the announcement Monday.
“There’s many communities around the province that we considered,” Reiter told reporters, noting Prince Albert and Moose Jaw were other leading contenders.
However, Reiter noted Saskatoon was the best fit because it’s more centrally located. The city is also home to the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and the province’s new Children’s Hospital.
Saskatoon won’t be the only city to offer executive leadership positions with the authority – the province’s plans include senior management in Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, and other major communities across Saskatchewan.
Reiter said he spoke to Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne directly about the decision on Monday morning.
“Obviously he would’ve preferred to have the head office there,” Reiter said. “But once I explained what we were doing with the executive model … knowing P.A. would have a significant presence, I’d say he was pleased.”
Support services will also continue to be delivered throughout the province.
The Sask. government provided an updated Monday on its amalgamation progress. Work has already begun to build the Information Technology infrastructure to support the work of approximately 43,000 employees, including a website and network and email accounts.
According to the province, the transition of the existing 12 regional health authorities to a single provincial health authority will increase efficiencies and reduce duplication in the health system – with potential savings in the range of $10-20 million by 2018-19.
Reiter said most of the efficiencies will come from reducing the size of the health executive, noting the move to one health authority would eliminate 11 CEO positions and over 50 vice presidents.
FASTER SERVICE FOR RURAL PATIENTS
Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit said the decision to move to a single health authority would make health care more accessible in rural areas.
He said because of the current health region boundaries, some patients are forced to travel to far away facilities for treatment.
“You may be sent a long distance away to the nearest facility within your region, and not the closest one which may be just across the border in another region,” he said.
“Now it’ll be much more efficient and more responsive to patient care.”
Ottenbreit also noted ambulance response times could improve, since contracts are currently awarded by region.
The new health authority is expected to begin operations in September.
– With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel.