Patients won't yet see changes with single Sask. health authority, CEO says

The new single health authority in Saskatchewan has officially launched, but its CEO says this change will not have a direct impact on health services today.

Board of directors holds 1st official meeting

The Saskatchewan Health Authority board of directors held its first meeting as the new single health authority launches Monday. (Saskatchewan Health Authority)

The new single health authority in Saskatchewan has officially launched, but its CEO says this change will not have a direct impact on health services Monday.

"Today marks the first day of operations as one unified organization, but it is just the beginning," said Scott Livingstone, Saskatchewan Health Authority chief executive officer, in a news release.

He said the new single health region in Saskatchewan is intended to improve the delivery of health services to all residents, but it will be a "multi-year journey."

"It was intentional to ensure that Day 1 of operations from a patient and family perspective was going to look a lot like Day -1," said Livingstone.

Board's 1st meeting

The 10-member Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) board of directors held its first meeting Monday, as the new provincial health authority officially launched.

"During the past several months, we have had orientation sessions and met with various stakeholders to get a full understanding of the Saskatchewan health care system," said Dick Carter, Saskatchewan Health Authority chairperson, in the release.

"This has prepared us for our responsibility to provide strategic guidance and for our role as stewards of the Saskatchewan health care system."

According to the release, the meeting will focus on formalizing board governance processes and passing resolutions required by legislation for the new health authority.

The board of directors will also adopt the Saskatchewan Health Authority bylaws approved by the Minister of Health and the new health authority's governance charter.

Scott Livingstone has been hired to head the new single health authority in Saskatchewan. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

'Seamless access'

Livingstone said he estimates the total transformation will take five years or more, but he hopes patients can see a change sooner.

"That aspirational vision of what three years would look like, is [that] a patient would experience a much more seamless access to services across the province, if we look at some of the challenges we've had in the past where patients have either received mixed messages, or simple things like having to repeat a family history or medical history each and every time they interact with the system."

He hopes that three years from now, patients won't face that challenge.

Livingstone said the move will eventually save money for taxpayers. The province said it's hoping to save at least $9 million a year by merging into the one region. 

Physicians' perspective

Meanwhile, a group representing physicians said it's cautiously optimistic as the new health authority begins operations.

Dr. Joanne Sivertson, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, said the organization 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 1 of the operations, there are physicians in key positions, and the SHA is moving forward with the physician perspective at the table," said 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."