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AHS shut down the ER in 4 rural hospitals in Nov

Combined, the four hospitals were closed for over 150 hours last month.

Last month, I reported that Alberta Health Services was closing the emergency department at the Elk Point Healthcare Centre every Tuesday and Thursday for the month of November.

This is a continuation of similar closures in June, July, August, September, and October. And it’s driven by a lack of physicians in the community, despite it being more than 6 months since AHS announced they had recruited 2 new physicians.

Well, last week, AHS announced that they were once again extending the Tuesday and Thursday closures. Unlike last month’s announcement, however, this one has no deadline.

Assuming these closures persist to the end of this month, that will be a combined 62 days that Elk Point has had no functioning emergency department, at least not beyond triage and assessment.

Elk Point wasn’t the only community affected by emergency department closures either.

For example, a day before I published my story last night, AHS announced that they planned to close the emergency department in the community of Fairview for 12 hours, starting at 19:00 on 9 November. The community saw closures in May, June, and July as well.

The community of McLennan also lost their emergency department last month. Their first closure was for 24 hours, beginning at 07:00 on 30 November. The second closure was this past weekend, starting at 07:00 last Friday and ending 07:00 yesterday, for a total of 72 hours.

Like Elk Point and Fairview, this isn’t the first time McLennan has lost emergency department services this year, having lost them in June, July, August, and September.

Finally, the community of Barrhead lost their emergency department for 12 hours last week, after AHS closed it down at 20:00 on 30 November. This is the first time that Barrhead has lost its emergency department this year.

The 4 communities lost emergency department services for a combined 156 hours last month, 228 if you include McLennan’s closure last weekend.

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By Kim Siever

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

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