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Recent Sylvan Lake Ambulatory Care closures cause concern

There is still room for improvement in the healthcare system in Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service. (Black Press file photo)

Recent closures of the Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service (SLAACS) serve as a pressing reminder that Alberta’s health care system needs to be improved.

The urgent care centre was recently closed from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Aug. 16, 17 and 18. It was also closed partially on Aug. 13 and 14, as well as Aug. 9 and 11. All closures were due to “gaps in physician coverage”.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson said concerns over the closures are being voiced at every opportunity and to every level of government.

“Our council has committed to bringing our community’s concerns over the closures to the province at every opportunity we have,” Hanson said.

For the residents in Sylvan Lake healthcare has been a major concern, Hanson added.

“It is incredibly frustrating to see these continual notices of closures of the SLAACS facility, particularly when the numbers show how needed the facility is in our community.”

In recent weeks the Town was provided with the annual visit count to the SLAACS which showed that in the 12-month period from 2022/2023 the facility received 18,725 visits which was a dramatic increase compared to the 10,351 visits seen in the previous 12 months in 2020/2021.

This issue and concern is not only unique to Sylvan Lake with other elected officials in the Central Alberta region also facing similar challenges with physician shortages, inadequate facilities and overall strains on local healthcare provision.

On Aug. 16, those officials met with Health Minister Adrianna LaGrange, who is also MLA for Red Deer-North.

“She was receptive to the conversation,” Hanson said.

”We are hopeful that having a Minister who is local to our area will be of benefit to us as she understands the challenges we have been facing in Central Alberta.”

In Sylvan Lake, a resident-driven committee group called the Sylvan Lake Health Professional Attraction and Retention Committee (SLhPARC) meets monthly to work to welcome potential physicians to the community.

“Over the past year, they have toured and welcomed four physicians and their families through our community and helped connect each of these new families to the supports they required to make Sylvan Lake their home,” Hanson said.

While the process of welcoming the new arrivals to the community has been slow it does give hope for the future, Hanson added.

“Our success here does give me hope that the shortages we are currently facing should decrease in the upcoming months.”



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Sarah Baker

About the Author: Sarah Baker

I joined Black Press in March 2023 and am looking forward to sharing stories about the local communities.
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