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Temporary closure of Sylvan Lake health service

Closed the evening of Aug. 18

Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service will be temporarily closed this evening (Aug. 18) and for a more few days later this month due to a gap in physician coverage.

Alberta Health Services said the centre will be closed Aug. 18 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and patients will not be admitted after 2 p.m. today to allow the physician and staff to treat and discharge those in care.

The centre will also be closed 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 21, 22 and 31.

AHS said the closures are temporary measures taken as a last resort. All avenues to secure physician coverage for today have been exhausted. Efforts to secure coverage of other vacant shifts are ongoing to minimize impacts to service and the community as much as possible, as AHS works until the last possible minute to secure locum physician coverage and avoid closure.

Patients arriving at centre outside the hours of operation will be redirected to other care options as appropriate. These options include returning the next day during hours of operation, booking an appointment with their family doctor, or calling Health Link at 811 for medical information and advice.

Patients can also access medical care from facilities in nearby communities, including Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer.

Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service offers diagnosis and treatment of urgent, but non-life-threatening conditions, seven days a week. These include sudden illness or injury that could be cared for in a doctor’s office but requires immediate attention.

Patients requiring emergency medical care are to call 911.

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Susan Slade, AUPE Vice-President and Licensed Practical Nurse

The UCP government and Alberta Health Services (AHS) must stop blaming hospital service disruptions on staff taking vacation, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

Health Minister Tyler Shandro began blaming summer-long rural hospital bed and emergency room closures on vacations in June of this year. The health authority has continued to use this excuse as recently as Monday, August 16, when AHS tweeted the closure of the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s Orthopedic Surgery Centre was because of staff taking vacation and an “unexpected” physician shortage.

“Albertans are expected to believe the recent hospital closures are because too many staff are taking vacation?” asks AUPE Vice-President and Licensed Practical Nurse Susan Slade. “Give me a break.

“The UCP government is attacking health care workers across the province. They are chasing doctors out of Alberta, deferring to privatized, for-profit health whenever possible, and alongside AHS are threatening to fire 11,000 staff while rolling back wages for the rest, all during a global pandemic. Their excuses aren’t fooling anyone.”

Far from unexpected, service disruptions and bed reductions are exactly what one would expect to see when the government wages war on the health care workers who have already suffered immeasurably because of the pandemic.

Furthermore, it is a problem that could have been prevented if the UCP and AHS showed some real leadership.

“We would not be in this position if the UCP hadn’t let the pandemic waves turn into tsunamis,” says Slade. “Workers’ health and morale would not have plummeted if they weren’t taking on this virus while short-staffed. They would not be anxiously looking for new work if AHS replaced their threats of rollbacks and firings with increased resources to support these health care heroes.

“The closures and service disruptions are not the front-line workers’ responsibility. The UCP and AHS need to own this.”


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