Podcast: Alberta This is Going to Hurt

This podcast is no longer being produced. The final episode aired July 5, 2021. The content predates successful conclusion of negotiations with government and ratification of a new agreement in fall 2022. Much of the content regarding the political environment has been overtaken by events, these items are being retained for archival purposes.

In this podcast, Alberta physicians delve into issues created by government funding changes over the last year that have created threats to our health care system, which will impact every Albertan. Guests of the podcast include community activists, academics, policy experts and patients who have been impacted by funding changes.

Meet our Podcast Hosts:

Dr. Sam Myhr is a full-scope family physician in Pincher Creek. Born and raised in small-town Alberta, she is passionate about ensuring rural Albertans have access to high-quality health care. When she’s not in the hospital or clinic, you can find Sam exploring her beautiful backyard with her pup or crushing her colleagues at board games. Described as “small, but fearless” by her patients, Sam continues to fight for rural health care through her new role as President of the AMA’s Section of Rural Medicine.

Dr. Jon Hilner is a family physician at the Grandin Clinic in St. Albert. In addition to directly caring for patients, Jon devotes countless hours to the advancement of primary care through his role in the Section of Family Medicine. He enjoys cooking and spending quality time with his twin girls and dog, Leonard.

Dr. Howard Evans is a urologist working in Edmonton through the Kaye Clinic and a Clinical Professor of Urology at the University of Alberta. When not seeing patients or teaching, Howard enjoys spending time with his family-physician wife and their four children, and he stays active through biking and running – even in Edmonton winters. Howard is looking forward to stepping into the world of podcasting, describing himself as having “the perfect face for radio.” He is currently a member of the AMA Board of Directors.

Episode 1 – Alberta, This is Going to Hurt

In this first episode we’ll discuss what’s happened to Alberta’s health care system over the past year. From ripped-up contracts and rushed legislation, to the long list of cuts and changes made without consultation. All of this during a global pandemic. And we’ll talk about what that means to our patients, our province and our profession – right now and in the future.

Episode 2 – the downstream consequences of COVID-19 on Alberta’s health care system

In this second episode of Alberta, This is Going to Hurt we’ll discuss the downstream impact of COVID on the health of Albertans. From delays in diagnosis and lapsed monitoring of chronic conditions, to people avoiding emergency rooms for serious events, we know there will be long-term consequences with staggering human and financial costs. We also speak with Dr. Richard Rabeeh, a pediatric psychiatrist, about the impact COVID has had on the mental health of children and adolescents.

Episode 3 - Getting to know our AMA President: a fireside chat with Dr. Paul Boucher

In this episode of Alberta, This is Going to Hurt, our hosts interview Dr. Paul Boucher, President of the AMA and an ICU physician working at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre. Listen as Dr. Boucher discusses some of the challenges Alberta physicians have experienced over the past year, including the increasing pressures on primary care. He’ll also talk about how the AMA is working with government to move toward an agreement that can restore much-needed stability to our health care system.

Episode 4 – After the Vote – What Comes Next

In the first episode back after March break, our hosts examine the reasons why AMA members voted No on the Tentative Agreement Package with government. They talk about member engagement during town halls and open forums – and through social media and online discussions. Our hosts explore the lack of trust in government, where the agreement fell short and the most immediate implications of the No vote. And they discuss the importance of AMA members staying united as they work to reach a new agreement that gives physicians a stronger voice in supporting patient care.

Episode 5 - The importance of continuity of care in a virtual world

In the latest episode, our hosts welcome Drs. Lee Green and Terry McDonald for a discussion about the importance of the patient’s medical home and the many benefits that come from continuity of care, including fewer emergency room visits. While virtual care is necessary and needed – especially during the pandemic – it works best when delivered by a physician who knows the patient and their medical history. They discuss the value of the relationship with your physician/clinic and the impacts to health system costs when this relationship is absent. Our guests also touch on the growing shadow pandemic of mental health, and how having a relationship with a physician can help patients open up about the stress they are experiencing.

Episode 6 - Alberta’s COVID reality and what it will take to turn the tide

In our most recent episode, our hosts interview Dr. Jia Hu, a Calgary-based public health and family physician who is currently involved in the primary care rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Jia Hu discusses how Alberta became a COVID hot spot, with some of the highest per capita new cases in the world and what it will take to get us out of this situation. He touches on the strategies other jurisdictions have taken to bring numbers down - including lockdowns – and explores vaccine effectiveness and safety and the importance of addressing hesitancy. He also looks ahead and explains why he’s optimistic that a return to normal is on the horizon.

Episode 7 - The Opioid Crisis: Alberta's other public health emergency (Part 1)

In our most recent episode, our hosts are joined by Dr. Hakique Virani, an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta and a specialist in public health and addictions, for part one of a two-episode discussion about Alberta’s escalating opioid crisis. Dr. Virani notes that opioid overdose deaths have become a “new normal” in Alberta, and explains how the increase in opioid overdose deaths has been exacerbated by the pandemic. He explores the importance of supervised consumption sites in saving lives and how reducing those services at a time when we should be expanding them defies logic. He also discusses the inherent racism in current drug laws and the justice and human rights issues that must be addressed in conversations about decriminalization.

Episode 8 - The Opioid Crisis: Leave no one behind (Part 2)

In the second half of our two-part discussion about Alberta’s escalating opioid crisis, our hosts are once again joined by Dr. Hakique Virani, an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta and a specialist in public health and addictions. In this episode, Dr. Virani explores some of what addiction means and why it’s challenging to categorize addiction as a disease. He discusses society’s difficulty with differences and how criminal drug laws serve as a barrier to security, especially for many racialized and marginalized groups, who often emerge from incarceration at a higher risk of death from overdose. He also explains the importance of interventions such as Naloxone distribution and supervised consumption sites in saving lives.

Episode 9 – A Rural SOS

In this episode, our host Sam Myhr is joined by Drs. Ed Aasman and Vicci Fourie to update Alberta on the state of rural health care. It's been over a year since they led a successful grassroots campaign that resulted in the reversal of several cuts to rural health care, but despite their efforts their communities are actually worse off than they were back then. Tune in to find out why, what rural health care is experiencing and what needs to change to mitigate the crisis that is unfolding. 

A note from Dr. Myhr: At one point we talk about the lifestyle of urban vs rural doctors, and I want to make it clear that we know urban physicians are suffering too. Our guest wanted to highlight that there is an expectation for us to "do it all" in our communities, whereas urban physicians can usually "opt in" to different areas of practice. That said, I have heard from many urban family docs that they also cannot find locums, and are responsible for covering after hours results on their patients 24/7, including handling calls overnight or while "away". Thank you all for the care you continue to provide to your patients.

Episode 10 – Season Finale

How have the rural health care crisis, COVID-19, a surging opioid crisis and virtual care impacted health care – and what does it mean for Albertans? After a year and half of facing one crisis after another, what does the future hold for our health care system? The problems Alberta is experiencing right now are only getting worse and we desperately need leadership and support. 

This week, in our season finale, we look back on what we’ve explored in previous episodes, including the rural health crisis, virtual care and its role within a patient’s medical home, the opioid crisis, COVID-19 and the looming care backlog created by the pandemic. Our hosts also look ahead to what comes next and the urgent need for action and stability.

Episode 11 – "So Long, and Thanks for All the Goodwill"

Almost two years since they last spoke, our host Sam Myhr revives the podcast for a special episode on the state of rural health care with doctors Ed Aasman and Vicci Fourie. In 2020, the three of them led a successful grassroots advocacy campaign to reverse cuts impacting the viability of rural medicine. Despite this, when they recorded their podcast in 2021, rural communities were continuing to bleed.

In this episode, Sam assumes the role of exit interviewer for her two colleagues who have chosen to move on from Alberta. Listen in to learn from their combined 56 years of experience: what is needed to resuscitate rural, and how you can help.

Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.