The town of Fort Macleod in southern Alberta will go without an emergency department for a day because there will be no doctor to staff it.
The town has a population of roughly 3,000 people, and it has about 16 emergency room visits in a typical day, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services told CBC News.
The health centre's emergency department will be closed from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday due to a shortage of doctors. Nursing staff will be on-site providing care for inpatients, and there will be one doctor in the community.
AHS said it's asking patients to call 911 if they have a medical emergency. Those EMS calls will be rerouted to the Chinook Regional Hospital, which is 50 kilometres away.
The measure will be temporary, AHS said, adding it is working hard to ensure locals have access to the care they need.
There are staffing shortages and full beds at health-care facilities across Alberta, as the province contends with a surging fourth wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the delta variant.
At least 22 communities in Alberta were experiencing acute care bed shortages — a list that did not include Fort Macleod as of its last update on Tuesday. Surgeries have also been cancelled in multiple cities.
Alberta is planning to bring in contract nurses from out of province, and has invoked emergency work rules for nurses that could force them to work mandatory overtime or cancel time off.
Fort Macleod is approximately 170 kilometres south of Calgary.