A âsudden gap in medical coverageâ forced the closure of the Sylvan Lake outpatient service for the second time in a week.
The urgent care center will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and will reopen at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
“This is a temporary measure taken as a last resort, as all avenues to secure physician coverage have been exhausted,” Alberta Health Services (AHS) said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
The health facility was temporarily closed last Thursday due to a similar gap in medical coverage. The center was closed from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., when it was scheduled to reopen to patients until 10 p.m. Normal hours of 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. resumed on Friday.
Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson said it’s always a concern whenever hours are shortened at the health facility.
Although the city has no direct control over the facility, AHS is keeping the municipality updated, and the city shared information Wednesday about alternatives for residents seeking care on social media.
âThe difficult part is that we also recognize that this is happening everywhere,â Hanson said. âIt’s not just our center. Each of our neighbors receives the same notices that we see.
AHS facilities aren’t the only ones facing staffing issues. City facilities and businesses, such as local grocery stores, have also faced staffing shortages during the pandemic.
âI think it’s a thing everywhere. Everyone is just stretched to the max, which is such a shame in terms of coverage (at the urgent care center). Â»
Hanson hopes the staffing shortages don’t get worse.
“I try to be optimistic that these are one-off situations. We’ve certainly seen a few more over the past month and hopefully that trend doesn’t continue.
“Hopefully it’s near the end. We really want to have this service at certain times and I know a lot of people are relying on it.”
The care center was also closed for part of Christmas Day. Patients were not accepted after 2 p.m. to allow doctors and nurses to treat those who were already there.
AHS said Wednesday that âpatients arriving at the urgent care center outside of business hours will be redirected to other care options as appropriate.
“These options include making an appointment with their family doctor or calling Health Link at 811 for medical information and advice.”
AHS says patients can also get medical care at facilities in nearby communities, including Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer.
Scheduled appointments with other health services â such as public health, laboratory and addictions and mental health â at the Sylvan Lake Community Health Center are not affected by the temporary change in hours.
Sylvan Lake’s Advanced Ambulatory Care Service offers diagnosis and treatment of urgent, but non-life threatening conditions, seven days a week. These include a sudden illness or injury that could be treated in a doctor’s office but requires immediate attention.
Patients requiring emergency medical attention should call 911.
By mid-August, the center was operating with reduced hours from Friday to Monday due to staffing issues.