Swan Hills Resident Takes Action On Overnight Closures At Hospital

·5 min read

Marion DeJong, a long-time resident of Swan Hills and a well-known community member, has taken action to address the recent reduction of service hours at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre (SHHC). Concerned by the interruption to palliative care, the medical detox program, and overnight emergency care, Marion took it upon herself to start a petition to give members of the Swan Hills community a way to voice their dissatisfaction with the situation.

The SHHC moved to a temporary change in service hours on June 9 due to a shortage of available registered nursing staff with an inability to find temporary coverage. The change in service hours took the SHHC from being open and available 24 hours a day to being closed from 7 PM to 7 AM. In-patient admissions have been paused during this time because 24-hour care could no longer be offered, although an exception was made for two designated supportive living beds that could be made available if staffing could be provided to support them. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has since extended the change of service hours at the SHHC until Aug. 9.

In addition to the reduced hours of service for the people of Swan Hills, there is the concern that reduced working hours for the doctors at the SHHC will have negative repercussions for them financially. “We have two doctors in town, and we would like to keep them. We will lose them if we don’t get more nurses.” Marion said, “They need to be able to do what they were hired to do. They were hired to provide 24-hour care, and they need to be able to do this.”

Upon looking into the issue further, Marion found that temporary emergency department closures, bed closures, and hospital closures in smaller towns are occurring all over the province and across the country. Most of these temporary closures seem to result from a lack of available doctors, but a scarcity of nursing staff is also an issue in some locations. AHS has an excellent resource for the latest news bulletins regarding temporary bed and/or space reductions on their website (albertahealthservices.ca/br/Page17601.aspx).

Marion started the petition independently, letting the community know about it through social media and word of mouth and then gathering signatures at the Super A over four days during her free time. She also placed petition sheets next to the patient waiting area at the clinic in the SHHC. So far, Marion has collected over 433 signatures, not including the latest addictions from the SHHC.

Mayor Craig Wilson had collected the petition to bring with him to a meeting with the Alberta Minister of Health, Jason Copping, in Slave Lake on Tuesday, July 26, regarding the current situation at the SHHC. Marion is also seeking to speak with Glenn van Dijken, MLA for Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, to advocate for our community. Marion DeJong, a long-time resident of Swan Hills and a well-known community member, has taken action to address the recent reduction of service hours at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre (SHHC). Concerned by the interruption to palliative care, the medical detox program, and overnight emergency care, Marion took it upon herself to start a petition to give members of the Swan Hills community a way to voice their dissatisfaction with the situation.

The SHHC moved to a temporary change in service hours on June 9 due to a shortage of available registered nursing staff with an inability to find temporary coverage. The change in service hours took the SHHC from being open and available 24 hours a day to being closed from 7 PM to 7 AM. In-patient admissions have been paused during this time because 24-hour care could no longer be offered, although an exception was made for two designated supportive living beds that could be made available if staffing could be provided to support them. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has since extended the change of service hours at the SHHC until Aug. 9.

In addition to the reduced hours of service for the people of Swan Hills, there is the concern that reduced working hours for the doctors at the SHHC will have negative repercussions for them financially. “We have two doctors in town, and we would like to keep them. We will lose them if we don’t get more nurses.” Marion said, “They need to be able to do what they were hired to do. They were hired to provide 24-hour care, and they need to be able to do this.”

Upon looking into the issue further, Marion found that temporary emergency department closures, bed closures, and hospital closures in smaller towns are occurring all over the province and across the country. Most of these temporary closures seem to result from a lack of available doctors, but a scarcity of nursing staff is also an issue in some locations. AHS has an excellent resource for the latest news bulletins regarding temporary bed and/or space reductions on their website (albertahealthservices.ca/br/Page17601.aspx).

Marion started the petition independently, letting the community know about it through social media and word of mouth and then gathering signatures at the Super A over four days during her free time. She also placed petition sheets next to the patient waiting area at the clinic in the SHHC. So far, Marion has collected over 433 signatures, not including the latest addictions from the SHHC.

Mayor Craig Wilson had collected the petition to bring with him to a meeting with the Alberta Minister of Health, Jason Copping, in Slave Lake on Tuesday, July 26, regarding the current situation at the SHHC. Marion is also seeking to speak with Glenn van Dijken, MLA for Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock, to advocate for our community.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette

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