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4th - Dec

Physicians cautiously optimistic as new health authority begins operations

Physicians in Saskatchewan are cautiously optimistic as the Saskatchewan Health Authority begins its first day of operations, and the president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association is encouraged by the level of physician involvement in the management of the new single health authority for the province.

“I am pleased to see that on day one of the operations, there are physicians in key positions, and the SHA is moving forward with the physician perspective at the table,” said Dr. Joanne Sivertson, president of the SMA. “The amalgamation of the new authority was a big topic of conversation among physicians in this province over the last 10 months.”

A dyad leadership structure will see physician executives teamed with an SHA vice-president in four areas: Urban health, rural health, northern health, and provincial programs. Physicians and VPs will act as a team to lead each area.

Dr. Susan Shaw, former director, Physician Advocacy and Leadership with the SMA, is the chief medical officer for the SHA, while Dr. Kevin Wasko, a family doctor from Swift Current, was named the physician executive for rural health. Dr. Mark Wahba is the physician executive for urban health and Dr. Paul Babyn is physician executive for provincial programs.

There are also two physicians on the 10-member SHA board of directors: Dr. Preston Smith and Dr. Janet Tootoosis, a former SMA board member and family physician from North Battleford.

“Despite the anxieties about change, many physicians see opportunities and are generally positive,” said Dr. Sivertson. “We are willing to work hard to build a more integrated health system in Saskatchewan. A single authority has benefits and ensuring high-quality patient care is delivered equitably across the province needs to be a paramount concern.”

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