Prevention, one of the keys

To the Editor;
The Government's Throne Speech commits to multidisciplinary, community-based family health clinics as a way to alleviate pressure on our hospitals. The Lung Association supports the new team-based approach and believes that prevention and education must be a major focus of this new delivery model.
Prevention is key to alleviating stress on our system. Managing chronic lung disease is a good example of how effective prevention can be to keep people out of emergency rooms, away from hospital beds and add quality to the lives of those whose health issues can be debilitating.
A conservative estimate of Albertans with chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD would populate a city more than half the size of Calgary or Edmonton.
Children or adults in crisis because they can't breathe rush to Emergency. Their situation can be life-threatening, so they jump to the head of the treatment queue. People with COPD are often admitted and may stay an average of 13 days – at approximately $1000 per day, that's over $13,000.
A prevention program of early detection, education and rehabilitation will empower these people to better manage their disease and reduce their flare-ups. They will visit Emergency less frequently – often keeping themselves out of the queue altogether.  They will often avoid hospital stays, reducing pressure on the system and leaving those beds open for others who need them.
If we are looking at new approaches to resolve the issues we face as a province, prevention is one of the keys to making more of the health care budget.  It may be difficult to quantify the cost vs the benefit of prevention programs. But we know it works – and we know we can't afford not to do it. The Lung Association encourages Alberta Health to make prevention part of its new model.
Leigh Allard, President & CEO
The Lung Association,
Alberta & NWT