More babies being born here at home

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The number of babies born in the Slave Lake hospital has increased. Staff recruitment is going well.

Deb Guerette is the AHS North Zone area six director of clinical operations. Area six covers Slave Lake, High Prairie, Wabasca, and McLennan, and every community in between.

From January 1 to September 24, 2020, she says, 84 babies were born in the Slave Lake hospital. Compared with the last two years, numbers are up. Last year, only 65 babies were born in the hospital. The year (2018), 85 babies were born in 12 months. This is only one more than the 84 babies in nine months in 2020.

Looking at a full 12 month period, the pattern is even more noticeable. The 12 month data is from Aug 1 to July 31 of the following year.

In 2017 to 2018, 75 babies were born. In 2018 to 2019, this increased to 83. In 2019 to 2020, the number increased to 113.

In the last 12 months, all of the surgeries in the hospital were C-sections. These accounted for 25 of the 113 births.

Physician, nurse practitioner, and other health care working recruitment is an ongoing part of running a health service.

Slave Lake Healthcare Centre has the hospital and Family Care Clinic (FCC).
Guerette gave an update on recruitment.

“We are in the process of recruiting one more family doctor,” she said. This is the final doctor of the nine that the clinic and hospital are budgeted to have.

The eight doctors now in Slave Lake are family doctors. Some also have enhanced surgical skills (three) and anesthesiology (two).

Town of Slave Lake councillor Joy McGregor recently posted a video about why people should choose a family care provider.

“Every Albertan should have a medical home,” she says. This is done by having a family care provider. People with a family doctor or nurse practitioner can still see other doctors. Having people sign up with a family care provider helps “ensure our community has enough providers and support and that we have accurate numbers to lobby within our government.”

The FCC has five nurse practitioners, says Guerette, which is the number of people hired for this position. One of these NPs is on leave.

“We always have a turnover for RNs,” says Guerette. At the moment, acute care has enough, but the hospital is recruiting for some in long-term care.
Other new staff includes a speech pathologist.

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