Lacombe’s hospital shuttered its emergency department overnight Monday and Sylvan Lake’s urgent care centre was not taking patients on Tuesday morning because of a doctor shortage.
Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service (SLAACS) announced on Monday night it will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. Beginning in the afternoon, patients will be accepted until 10 p.m., stated a news release from Alberta Health Services.
“This is a temporary measure taken as a last resort, as all avenues to secure physician coverage have been exhausted,” said AHS.
“Patients arriving at SLAACS outside the hours of operation will be redirected to other care options as appropriate. These options include returning later in the day during hours of operation, booking an appointment with their family doctor, or calling Health Link at 811 for medical information and advice.”
Patients were told they can also get medical help in nearby communities, including Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer. Patients requiring emergency medical care were told to call 911.
Scheduled appointments with other health services in Sylvan Lake – such as public health, laboratory and addiction and mental health were not affected.
This is at least the fourth time since Christmas that the Sylvan Lake care centre has had to turn away patients temporarily.
Hours were shortened because of a staff shortage on Christmas Day and again twice within a week in January.
Hours were also reduced for a time last summer because of doctor shortages.
The most recent Sylvan Lake closure followed a 6:40 p.m. AHS notice on Monday that the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre was to close temporarily from 11 p.m. on Monday until 8 a.m Tuesday.
“New patients will not be admitted after 11 p.m. and those remaining in the department at that time will be treated and discharged according to their needs,” said AHS. “Nursing staff will remain in the ED (Emergency Department) overnight to assess and triage any walk-in patients who present during the closure.”
Patients were directed to emergency departments in surrounding areas while Lacombe was closed and less urgent cases were directed to walk-in clinics.
Patients requiring emergency medical care during this time were asked to call 911. EMS were re-routed to surrounding facilities, including the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre and Stettler Hospital and Care Centre.
“This closure is a temporary measure taken as a last resort,” stated AHS. “Alberta Health Services is working hard to ensure local residents continue to have access to the care they need during this time, and to keep all other services at the site operating as normal.”
“Inpatient units and other service at the site are not impacted by this gap in physician coverage.”
Residents are reminded to call Health Link at 811, which is available 24/7, for non-emergency, health-related questions.