Rocky Mountain House doctor worries recent closure of emergency department won't be the last

·1 min read
The emergency department at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre was closed for 16 hours this week due to a shortage of doctors. (Google Street View - image credit)
The emergency department at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre was closed for 16 hours this week due to a shortage of doctors. (Google Street View - image credit)

A doctor in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., worries a recent closure of the local emergency department will not be an isolated incident.

Earlier this week, the community health centre's emergency department closed for 16 hours because there wasn't anyone able to cover a shift.

"AHS exhausted all efforts to find physician coverage during this time, locally, within Central Zone, and provincially, but have not been able to find physicians to cover the ED during this time," Alberta Health Services said in a release.

A number of physicians were unavailable because they were self-isolating or their children were doing online schooling, according to AHS.

Rocky Mountain House family physician Dr. Ed Aasman says it's rare but he's not sure it will remain so.

"We've been actively recruiting, we're down quite a bit in our numbers," he said. "We actually still have shifts coming up that haven't been filled."

He says the situation is "frightening."

AHS says it has eight doctors in various stages of recruitment for Rocky Mountain House, starting in July.

During any temporary closures, emergencies are redirected to other hospitals in the area, including those in Sylvan Lake, Rimbey, Sundre and Red Deer.

Rocky Mountain House is not alone in struggling with a shortage of doctors.

The Fairview Health Complex emergency department was closed for a 12-hour period that ended Wednesday morning and the Elk Point Healthcare Centre emergency was closed for 24 hours starting the morning of May 13.

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