At least three northern Alberta towns won't have doctors on-site in their community's emergency departments for prolonged periods next week, Alberta Health Services announced Saturday.
The Swan Hill Healthcare Centre's emergency department will be without a doctor from 8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, until 8 a.m. Christmas Eve (Friday), AHS said in a news release. And there will be no doctors in the Barrhead Healthcare Centre's emergency department from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.
Nurses will be on site to provide triage and assessments, and will refer patients to other emergency departments in nearby communities if needed, the release said.
People who need Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be re-routed to other nearby health-care facilities, including the Westlock, Whitecourt and Slave Lake health centres.
Swan Hills is about 220 kilometres northwest of Edmonton and Barrhead is about 120 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
ED in McLennan, Alta., to be without doctor for 96 total hours
Meanwhile, the emergency department at the Sacred Hearth Community Health Centre, in McLennan, Alta., will be without a doctor on site for 96 total hours next week, AHS said in a separate news release.
It will be the second week in a row that the emergency department has had prolonged periods without an on-site physician.
The emergency department will be without an on-site physician for 24 hours from 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20 until 7 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21.
It will be without a doctor again for 72 hours, starting 7 a.m. Christmas Eve until 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 27.
Nurses will remain on-site to care for inpatients with one local physician in the community, the release said.
People requiring EMS will be sent about 50 kilometres southeast of town to High Prairie health Complex.
McLennan and Swan Hill patients, depending on their needs, can be made aware of services available through local pharmacies, the releases say.
Residents should call Health Link at 811 for non-emergency, health-related questions, they add.
McLennan is about 420 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.