Alberta Health Services announced on August 2 that the South Calgary Health Centre would be ceasing to admit new patients to urgent care in late-evenings.
The South Calgary Health Centre located in the community of Sundance, and provides non-life-threatening but same day required treatment for health concerns like broken bones, lacerations, pain, and infections.
AHS said that the limit on new patients would begin at 8 pm on Tuesday. Previously the hours of admittance were from 8 am to 10 pm.
“This change is to help ensure that safe care continues to be provided at the UCC within the current staffing model,” said AHS in a press release.
“At this time, we are unable to increase staffing at the UCC due to workforce challenges.”
Patients waiting in the queue prior to 8 pm will be continued to be treated according to their needs said AHS.
“When the UCC is very busy, staff may redirect or transfer new patients that can safely do so to other nearby healthcare facilities up to two hours before closing to ensure all existing patients within the UCC can be provided the care and treatment they require,” said AHS.
The hospital is directing patients to seek other treatment care options, including family physician appointments, visiting walk-in clinics, or family care clinics. The province also operates 811, which provides 24/7 access to on call medical professionals who can direct care options for patients.
Patients with life threatening emergencies are asked to call 911, or proceed to their nearest Emergency Department.
Mayor sees systemic issues with health care provision to Calgarians
Mayor Jyoti Gondek expressed her frustration with the situation in Alberta’s health care. She pointed to the reduced hours at the South Calgary Health Centre, and the closure of the Airdrie Health urgent care causing ongoing health issues for Calgarians.
“We’ve seen systemic issues with public health and public health care,” said Mayor Gondek.
“We are seeing health care workers that are burnt out—we are seeing them needing to take a leave, whether it’s just to be with their family or actually take a break because of exhaustion,” she said.
“They can’t keep running like this. There has to be something done.”
Mayor Gondek said that news of the reduction in hours came as a surprise to her. She said that a member of the mayor’s team met with Minister of Health Jason Copping on July 29, alongside other regional municipal partners, and that the reduction in hours was not disclosed at that time.
“I did receive a full briefing that was on Friday last week, and we did not learn anything about this closure that day,” she said.
Additional closures possibilities not disclosed to Mayor
Calgary City Council along with other municipalities remain concerned that there could be continued closures, or limitations in the hours of operations for AHS medical facilities.
Airdrie Councillor Heather Spearman joined with Mayor Gondek last week to express those concerns. Gondek updated the media on August 2, that continued discussions with the province surrounding health care have been ongoing.
“What I can tell you is that some of my fellow councillors and I remain committed to speaking with our provincial counterparts, talking to AHS, and figuring out what we can do,” said Mayor Gondek.
“This is a provincial jurisdiction, absolutely, but we have to stay on top of it and advocate for our citizens.”
Across the province there have been closures and reductions in hours at many different communities. This year, according to AHS press releases, there have been at least 14 department closures or hours limitations in the last month.
And as for whether there could be additional closures or limitations in Calgary, Mayor Gondek said that “I would hope that we don’t hear about any other closures, but my friends we have been surprised by this.”
“They are in a really difficult position right now and you can’t expect them to keep going, and once they see that there’s closures of facilities so that those folks can get a break, I would expect they’re looking for the same in their facilities,” said Mayor Gondek.