‘Dire situation’ in rural Alberta hospital set to be resolved, ER to re-open

Three hundred kilometres east of Calgary, Oyen, Alta., has been in a dire situation for several months and it may be getting some relief now.

Oyen’s Big Country Hospital was facing a major shortage of nurses. That led to the shut down of all ten of its acute care beds and limited emergency department service.

Now, the health minister says most services are coming back.

“We have the staffing in place to be able to re-open, starting this weekend, the emergency department and five of the [acute care beds] as well,” Health Minister Jason Copping said at a press conference Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: ‘Dire situation’ as rural Alberta hospital sees staff shortages, ER closures

He blamed the issue Oyen and many other rural Alberta towns are facing on a lack of staff.

“The challenge is with staffing — particularly in rural areas — they existed before COVID and COVID made the matters worse.”

Since January, the emergency department would only stay open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., meaning if you had any emergencies outside of those hours, you had to seek medical attention elsewhere, which means hours of driving.

Click to play video: 'Calgary man outraged after his terminally ill Indigenous mom was admitted to a storage room'

Calgary man outraged after his terminally ill Indigenous mom was admitted to a storage room

“If you needed an x-ray or if you have a kid that broke a collar bone, or if you broke a leg, it was ‘load’em up and haul’em’ for two hours before they get good care,” Oyen resident Heather Knapik told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement

“You have to have medical people available to you, you can’t just go to a hospital and have [the doors] be locked.”

Global News first reported on the situation Oyen is facing in February and experts said this is what communities all across Alberta as facing. Those communities are calling for government intervention immediately.

“If we’re opening again tomorrow 24-hour emergency at our little rural hospital that’s an hour and a half away from anything else, that’s fantastic news,” Knapik added.

Click to play video: 'Many rural Alberta hospital’s short of staff, ER closures common'

Many rural Alberta hospital’s short of staff, ER closures common

However, the Alberta NDP say the government’s partial restoration of services in Oyen shouldn’t be applauded.

Story continues below advertisement

“Albertans deserve transparency and accountability, and honesty from their premier,” NDP leader Rachel Notley said.

“This constant effort to gaslight Albertans, spending their own tax dollars on misleading advertising, telling them the health-care crisis is not a problem anymore is not a sign of strong leadership.”

Read more: Alberta government plans to add ambulances, EMS crews to improve response times

Six hundred Oyen residents showed up to a town hall in January, demanding answers from the government.

Since then, they say Alberta Health Services has been keeping them up-to-date and have made good on its promise to the town.

Oyen only has one ambulance and in December it was not staffed for 14 of 31 days. However, residents say AHS has kept that ambulance consistently staffed since the town hall.

Despite this partial re-opening in Oyen, 32 AHS sites across Alberta are still seeing service disruptions which include temporary closures.

Click to play video: 'AHS data shows thousands of paramedic shifts unfilled in 2022'

AHS data shows thousands of paramedic shifts unfilled in 2022

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source