Alberta Health Services (AHS) is temporarily changing hours of service at Wabasca-Desmarais Healthcare Centre, due to a lack of registered and licensed practical nursing staff and an inability to secure temporary coverage.
According to the June 10 news release from AHS, until June 21, 2022, the Wabasca-Desmarais Healthcare Centre Emergency Department would be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and closed overnight, from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
“This will allow existing staff to provide consistent service for 12 hours each day,” “In-patient admissions have been paused.”
“This will allow existing staff to provide consistent service for 12 hours each day. In-patient admissions have been paused.”
Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Silas Yellowknee had some things to say about the situation. In a CBC news story, he called the temporary closure “not acceptable,” because health care is a treaty right. Yellowknee and M.D. of Opportunity reeve Marcel Auger were expecting to meeting with AHS officials last Friday to discuss the situation.
An AHS spokesperson told CBC EMS calls would be re-routed to Slave Lake, Athabasca and High Prairie during the closure.
“I have got to put my hope in them that nobody dies during transport,” Yellowknee told CBC.
The CBC story goes on to say AHS says there have been six temporary periods of no physician coverage at the Wabasca/Desmarais Health Care Centre in the past five months.
Shortage of staff is behind the decision, as usual.
“This decision reflects our best option for providing consistent, ongoing care at this facility over the next two weeks,” says Stacy Greening, Chief Zone Officer with AHS North Zone. “The change is temporary and we are dedicated to returning to normal operating hours as soon as possible.”
The AHS release goes on to say recruitment of nurses is a challenge across North America, and can be “particularly difficult outside of urban centres and with practitioners who bring specialty skills.“
AHS continues “aggressively pursuing both Canadian and internationally-trained professionals,” the release goes on to say.