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Dr. Chris Eagle spoke to the media Friday for the first time since he was appointed acting CEO of Alberta Health Services. ((CBC))

The acting CEO of Alberta Health Services is urging staff on the front lines of hospital care to speak up about their problems.

"I'm not interested in chastising any front-line worker about exposing any problems that they see in the system," Dr. Chris Eagle said at a news conference Friday.

"I'm not always going to be able to fix the problems but knowing what the slate of problems looks like influences the way you put your priorities and what the front-line staff say is really important to me."

The news conference marked the first time Eagle spoke to the news media since he was appointed acting CEO on Wednesday.

Eagle plans to start a tour of the province on Saturday to see how things are going in Alberta's hospitals.

"We obviously have issues with public confidence.," he said. "We have issues with emergency department capacity.

"We have a clear direction from the board, so my sense is I'm not changing direction here. I'm sort of trying to amplify up the level of performance that we have in the organization to look at those front-line patient service improvements that we can make."

Eagle was moved into the position after the AHS board fired Stephen Duckett at the urging of Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky.

The province believed Duckett had lost the confidence of the province's health-care workers after he refused to answer questions from reporters after leaving a meeting on Alberta's ER crisis last week. 

Duckett repeatedly told reporters he was too busy to comment because he was eating a cookie.