AHS shut down hospital services in 17 communities since May

One community has lost its emergency department 14 times.

Last month, I wrote an article about hospital service closures in Alberta. In it, I pointed out that 14 communities across the province lost various hospital services, including emergency departments, since May 2021.

In the month and a half since then, Alberta Health Services announced several more closures.

For example, the day I published the above article, they announced (here and here) the closure of advanced ambulatory care services in Sylvan Lake on 7 days:

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  • 13 August, 15:00–22:00
  • 15 August,07:30–15:00
  • 16 August, 15:00–22:00
  • 18 August, 15:00–22:00
  • 21 August, 07:30–15:00
  • 22 August, 07:30–15:00
  • 31 August, 07:30–15:00

These closures were a direct result of not enough physicians.

The community of Boyle once again lost its emergency department service, when AHS closed it down for 48 hours, starting at 08:00 the morning of 18 August. This closure was also due to too few physicians. This past June, the community lost its emergency department 13 times.

Westlock lost operating room services for over 3 days due to staff shortages. AHS shut down the OR at the Westlock Healthcare Centre at 17:00 on 20 August and didn’t reopen it until 07:00 on 23 August. That’s a total of 62 hours. And this is on top of the reduction in obstetric services imposed on the community by AHS in May, June, and July.

AHS removed emergency department services at the The Sacred Heart Community Health Centre in McLennan on 5 different days because of not enough physicians. In the first closure (at the end of August), AHS closed their ER for 12 hours. In the second, there were 3 24-hour closures last week, as well as one scheduled for later this week, on the 30th. They lost ER services back in June, too.

Wabasca-Desmarais lost its emergency department for 48 hours, after AHS shut it down at the end of August. Once again, it was because of a lack of physician coverage.

In the first closure of September, the town of Fort Macleod lost its emergency department for 24 hours. AHS closed the ER on 9 September. The reason: not enough doctors.

Last week, AHS announced that there were closing the ER at the hospital in the community of Consort, but didn’t say how long the closure would last, only that it would occur on the 24th. And also, because of too few doctors. They lost service last month, too.

With these latest announcements, the number of Alberta communities that have lost hospital services since May now sits at 17:

  • Boyle
  • Consort
  • Edmonton
  • Edson
  • Elk Point
  • Fairview
  • Fort Macleod
  • Fort Vermilion
  • Lacombe
  • McLennan
  • Red Deer
  • Rocky Mountain House
  • Spirit River
  • St. Paul
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Wabasca-Desmarais
  • Westlock

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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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