6 Alberta communities lost ER service in October

One other community had lost ambulatory care.

At the beginning of October, I reported that Alberta Health Services had cut services at hospitals in 9 rural communities in September.

This is a continuation of similar closures throughout 2021, starting last May. And it’s driven primarily by a lack of physicians in the communities.

Well, last month, AHS announced that they were once again issuing closures at various hospitals around the province.


The first closure announcement for October actually occured on 29 September 2022.

Back in July, AHS announced that they were extending a temporary closure for the Boyle Healthcare Centre until 1 September. However, at the end of August, AHS reported that they were extending this closure until the end of September. This new announcement extended the closure until the end of October.

The 13-hour daily closure applies to the entire clinic, not just the emergency department, and will be in effect as of 20:00 every night in September.

At the end of October, AHS issued yet another extension, this time until the end of this month. This marks 5 full months that this clinic is closed overnight.

Boyle’s emergency department itself was also closed in June of this year, as well as for 9 hours this past April and 13 times last June.

Cold Lake

AHS announced their next closure on 2 October, when they said that they’d be shutting down the emergency department twice at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.

The first 8 closure would begin at 23:00 on 3 October, and the second would occur stating at the same time on the 5th.

Just 5 days later, AHS reported that they were closing Cold Lake’s ER a third time, starting at 23:00 on 8 October and reopening at 7:00 the next morning.

These closures were because AHS was unable to hire a sufficient number of physicians to provide sufficient coverage.

Nurses were on hand for assessment and triage services.

Cold Lake lost their emergency department 16 times in January, 3 times in February, twice in March, twice in April, once in May, three times in June, four times in July, and twice in September as well.

Elk Point

On 7 October, AHS announced a 14-hour emergency department closure for the Elk Point Healthcare Centre.

The closure was to start at 17:00 on the 8th.

A week later, AHS announced an additional 12-hour closure for the Elk Point emergency department, beginning at 19:00 on the 17th.

AHS made a third closure announcement on the 15th. This additional 12-hour closure was to begin at 19:00 that evening.

Then on the 28th, they announced a fourth closure. The 12-hour closure was supposed to begin at 07:00 the following morning.

That’s a combined loss of 60 hours.

This closure was a result of AHS having insufficient levels of nursing staff.

The community lost its emergency department several times last year in June, July, August, September, October, and November, as well as this past August and September.


On the 15th, AHS announced another ER closure, this time at the Fairview Health Complex. This one lasted for 12 hours, starting at 07:00 that morning.

The next day, AHS reported that they’d be closing this emergency department again, but this time for 8 hours, starting at 23:00 on that evening

Both closures were due to AHS having not hired a sufficient number of nurses for the hospital.

The Fairview ER was shut down several times last year, including in MayJuneJuly, and November, as well as twice this past January.

Sylvan Lake

On the 18th, AHS announced that the Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service would be closed as of 07:30 that morning until 15:00 that afternoon.

The closure was a result of AHS not hiring enough physicians.

This isn’t the first time the community has lost ambulatory care; they lost it for 7 days last August, as well as over Christmas and this past JanuaryFebruary, March, May, June, July, August, and September.

Milk River

AHS announced 6 days later, on the 24th, that they were shutting down the emergency department in the Milk River Health Centre for a day and a half. The closure would begin at 17:00 that evening and end at 08:00 on the 26th September, for a total of 39 hours.

Once again, it was due to insufficient staffing levels of physicians.

Nursing staff were on-site to provide care for individuals in community support beds and long-term care residents, and EMS were redirected to Lethbridge.

Milk River also lost their ER in February, May, and September of this year.


The final closure announced in October was on the 28th, when AHS declared they they were extending a restriction on the operating hours that they had introduced this summer.

The extension was supposed to last until the end of October, during which time, the emergency department will be closed every weeknight starting at 17:00 and reopening at 08:00 the following morning.

However, AHS said that they were extending the closure throughout November.

Bassano’s emergency department saw a closure in May and August, too.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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