Urgent Care Centre at the Airdrie Community Health Centre temporary night closures could cause residents in north central Calgary to not have access to urgent medical care if needed.
In a press release, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at the Airdrie Community Health Centre will be temporarily closed overnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. This will be in place for approximately eight weeks due to gaps in physician coverage.
Patients will be referred to emergency departments in surrounding communities as appropriate during this time. Those with less urgent needs may be referred to local medical clinics for walk-in appointments Monday morning, read the release.
“It is unacceptable to our region that we are seeing Urgent Care closures like the one in Airdrie,” said Airdrie Coun. Heather Spearman.
Impact in North Calgary
According to Spearman, the situation is potentially a life and death one. More than just Airdrie patients access the health facility. There are Calgary residents who use the facility because there isn’t one nearby within city limits.
That’s a cause for concern for one Calgary city councillor.
“When you are needing health care as a north-central Calgarian, you’re just going to look for the closest urgent care center and for my residents that’s Airdrie,” said Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian.
“We’ve been advocating for many years to have another urgent care center in the north-central part of the city, but that hasn’t happened.”
According to Spearman, the issue needs to be resolved immediately by Alberta’s Health Minister, Jason Copping. Especially because they’ve been notified that this will likely happen again, Spearman said.
Spearman was at Mount Royal University with other area political leaders on the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, including Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“The situation in Airdrie is dire and it will have impact on all of the neighbouring partners. That’s why you see the Calgary metropolitan region board partners here advocating for answers on behalf of Airdrie residents,” said Mayor Gondek.
Physician shortage not on physicians, Mian said
Patients requiring emergency medical care during this time are asked to call 911. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be re-routed to surrounding facilities. That’s including Peter Lougheed Centre, Didsbury District Health Centre, Foothills Medical Centre and Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“We need better Urgent Care in north central Calgary and even as an urban partner, we rely on our other urban partners. This closure is really concerning to my residents, really concerning to Calgary and the entire region,” said Mian.
Mian also recognized that this situation has nothing to do with the front-line workers. This is a provincial issue that needs to be resolved by the province and Minister Copping.
“This is a physician shortage, and that’s not on those individual physicians,” Mian said.
“It’s just about making sure that we do have enough resources. We just have to raise the alarm in the places where people’s safety is at the greatest risk. When it comes to people’s safety, we can’t compromise.”