Lack of doctors, locum prompts closure

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Fairview hospital’s emergency department had to close temporarily due to a lack of doctors and an inability to secure locum coverage.

The Fairview Health Complex emergency department was closed for 12 hours between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday.

It was one of three emergency departments across the province that closed. The Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department also closed for 13 hours between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday, and Elk Point Healthcare Centre emergency department closed for 24 hours beginning Thursday at 8 a.m.

AHS vice-president of quality and chief medical officer Dr. Francois Belanger told the Calgary Herald that while the network of locum doctors used to fill in for physicians is “very good,” the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting in several different ways, from doctors being exposed to the disease, to having to isolate due to close contacts, or having children at home from school impacting their ability to travel.

In late December last year the High Prairie emergency department had to close due to short staffing from a COVID outbreak. The closure prompted many constituents to ask on social media where their MLA was, and was one of the factors that magnified the scandal surrounding Lesser Salve Lake MLA Pat Rehn’s Christmas vacation in Mexico, a scandal that eventually led to his dismissal from the UCP caucus to sit as an independent MLA.

The Fairview emergency department is in MLA Todd Loewen’s constituency. Loewen has consistently advocated for a regional approach to COVID restrictions, and was one of 17 MLAs who signed a letter against those restrictions.

Loewen has not commented on the recent emergency closure, but after calling on Premier Jason Kenney to resign, is now sitting as an independent MLA.

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