After the Fairview Health Complex Emergency Department was closed at least twice in the last 30 days due to a doctor shortage, Central Peace—Notley MLA Todd Loewen has asked Minister of Health Tyler Shandro for an explanation into the lack of staff allocated to rural healthcare.
From May 11th at 7 p.m. to May 12th at 7 a.m., the Fairview emergency room was temporarily without on-site physician coverage, with another four-hour window on May 21st also made public by the United Nurses of Alberta.
Loewen says with the added stresses COVID-19 has created for the health care system, a lack of emergency care, at any level, for rural Albertans, is unacceptable.
“We look at a place like Fairview, and that services an area right to the BC border an hour and a half away.”
“It seems like it’s an ongoing issue, and obviously there are times we need to bring in replacement doctors, but obviously this has been something that has been going on for a while, we need to get it fixed,” he says.
By penning the letter to the minister, Loewen says he is hoping to find out how many doctors should areas like Fairview, and other rural medical centres need to deliver effective services, and when will they get there.
“When do they expect to get those positions filled… and it’s easy to say ‘yep, we are working on it, we are trying to find doctors, just trust us, we are on it,’ but we really need a timeline,” he says.
“Any time you’re in business and you need to do something, and things need to be done in a certain amount of time, or it’s considered a failure.”
Similar emergency room closures have also occurred in Rocky Mountain House and Elk Point, in Central Alberta.