Andrew Neuner was raised in small northern towns. For the RhPAP board member, much of his life has been spent working as a top administrator in mental health, Indigenous health, and long-term care facilities in rural areas.
“I’ve always loved the rural environment,” says Neuner. “The connections people make, the pioneering spirit that I think still exists.”
His vast experience as a leader and innovator for many health programs in Western Canada serves him well in his current position as CEO of the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA).
HQCA looks at the big picture in health care with the aim of improving overall systems.
“We don’t provide health care,” adds Neuner. “We don’t see patients. So, we have that objective third-party view of the system.”
As much as physicians are very important, and often physicians are the captain of the team, they are more successful when they are surrounded by a team that works well together.
His quest is to provide Albertans with the best and safest health care possible. RhPAP is honoured that he brings his extensive experience and expertise to our board.
In turn, Neuner is encouraged by RhPAP’s expanded focus from just rural physicians to all rural health professionals in its multidisciplinary approach.
“I think that takes RhPAP to the next level because now you are more inclusive of all the important elements that make a system work,” explains Neuner. “As much as physicians are very important, and often physicians are the captain of the team, they are more successful when they are surrounded by a team that works well together.”
Even when a patient has to go to an urban centre for specialized treatment, he sees rural health-care teams playing a vital role. Take knee surgery, for example:
“A local, rural team can work with patients to what I call pre-hab,” says Neuner. “How do we prepare our patient for the best experience when they go to the city for the knee surgery? It could be something as simple as having a discussion about [how to encourage the best outcomes like] ‘you know 20 pounds less will help improve your outcome and recovery. How do we help you get there? How do we help you now with learning some of the exercises that you’ll be expected to do after your surgery?’”
RhPAP has an opportunity to connect a lot of the dots within communities and between communities so we don’t have to relearn this in every setting or in every environment.
Going forward, Neuner sees a bright future for RhPAP in its support of rural communities in Alberta.
“RhPAP has an opportunity to connect a lot of the dots within communities and between communities so we don’t have to relearn th[ese rural health-care strategies] in every setting or in every environment. There is a go-to, objective, expert agency like RhPAP that can help guide people.”
Finally, we asked Neuner if he was an Oilers fan or a Flames fan?
“I’m certainly a playoff fan and I just want to see good playoffs,” he says. “I’m a basketball fan at heart, and we don’t have any professional basketball teams in Alberta so, I still cheer for the Raptors.”