JointHealth™ express   June 11, 2013

Dear Alberta,

A rehabilitation program based at the University of Alberta Hospital, which provides physical therapy and occupational therapy to people who live north of Red Deer, is slated to be shut down.

From its 14 years of providing patient education in Alberta and across Canada, ACE knows how vital the Rheumatology Specialty Rehabilitation Program is for providing physical therapy and occupational therapy to people with arthritis. These therapies are not merely “add-on” or “superfluous” treatments with unproven benefits. They are essential to a well-rounded treatment plan for preventing permanent joint damage, lost function, and work disability.

The closure means that thousands of northern Alberta residents with arthritis will no longer have access to an important part of their arthritis treatment plan.

Taking these services away could slow or halt the recovery of thousands of Albertans who live with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, dermatomyositis, systemic sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Furthermore, people newly diagnosed with arthritis have to learn how to keep doing, and adapt accordingly, the physical activities they once were lucky enough to take for granted. Physical and occupational therapies give patients time to adjust to and accept their diagnosis. As a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, I speak from experience.

Many of these diseases strike during the prime of life, between the ages of 20 and 50, leading to a situation where people who should be working and contributing to the economy are forced—not by choice—to become a burden on Alberta’s economy.

Cutting this rehabilitation program is similar to cutting a cancer recovery program.

Given the Alberta government’s conservative economic plan, the rehabilitation program should remain because taking it away will do nothing to save the province money when considering the economic burden of reducing people, who could be able-bodied and working, to patients dependent on welfare and disability programs.

Premier Redford has claimed that the future of Alberta’s healthcare systems is her government’s number one priority, stating “the need to make our system among the very best in the world.” If she is serious about this, then she will reconsider closing the Rheumatology Specialty Rehabilitation Program.

Arthritis Consumer Experts has written a letter asking Alberta Health Services to reverse the decision to close down the program. To be heard loud and clear, we need many voices. Would you consider taking the time to write a letter? If so and you would like help, please visit the “what you can do” page on for advice on how to compose a letter to politicians or a letter to the editor. Or, call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday at 1-604-974-1366.

Please don’t let a critical arthritis service be closed down.

Yours sincerely,

Cheryl Koehn
President and founder
Arthritis Consumer Experts