Most Community Lab services across the province will be performed by DynaLife Medical Labs starting Canada Day. Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) announced last week they had reached contract terms with DynaLIFE. a move the province expects to save money.
“Contracting routine community lab work to DynaLIFE will enhance service for Albertans and generate cost savings that can be used to support other priorities and services across the healthcare system,” said Minister of Health Jason Copping. “Partnering with DynaLIFE is an innovative solution that will build upon the success of Alberta’s provincially integrated lab system, which has proven to be one of the best of its kind in North America and is critical to providing high-quality patient diagnosis and treatment across the healthcare spectrum.”
The province says 65 per cent of the lab work conducted in the province comes from the community. Those roughly 50 million tests per year will be performed by DynaLife, who have already been providing services on behalf of AHS’ North Zone for 25 years, starting in July.
The expansion will include operating patient service centres and mobile collection facilities in urban centres and large rural communities including Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Brooks, Lloydminster, Camrose, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Strathmore, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St. Albert and Stoney Plain.
APL will continue to provide services to hospitals and community health sites currently handling less than 25,000 community blood test collections per year.
A request for further clarification on whether that included Morinville or not from Alberta Precision Laboratories was not responded to Monday.
The Morinville AHS clinic was the subject of recent controversy when AHS said the facility would close on Feb. 1. A Change.org petition and other public, media and political backlash resulted in a reversal of that decision.
Alberta NDP Health Critic David Shepherd was critical of the UCP lab service move, calling it a short-sighted decision that risks higher costs.
“We need a laboratory system whose first obligation is to Albertans, not corporate shareholders. Albertans deserve to be put first when it comes to their health, and the health of their families,” Shepherd said in a media release Friday.
The NDP was not alone in the criticism. Public Interest Alberta called the decision the wrong direction and the wrong time.
“Public Interest Alberta will always oppose the introduction of profit into public services, ” said Interest Alberta Executive Director Bradley Lafortune. “The UCP have shown time after time that even during a pandemic they are willing to put critical services at risk. It’s never responsible, from a service delivery or fiscal point of view, to introduce profit into our healthcare, and when we are facing capacity and stability strains, it’s downright dangerous.’’
AHS says the transition will have no job losses due to DynaLIFE agreeing to assume all unionized, non-unionized and medical-scientific staff under existing collective agreements.