In what is becoming a seemingly regular occurrence, the Stettler Hospital Emergency Department was again closed on Sept. 8.
A media release at 10:30 a.m. states that the hospital was once again without on-site physician coverage due to an “unexpected gap in coverage.”
The Emergency Department is expected to reopen at 4 p.m. and remain open until 6 a.m. on Sept. 9, when it will briefly close again until 8 a.m. before returning to regular operations.
“Efforts to secure alternative locum coverage continue in order to minimize disruptions as much as possible,” states Heather Kipling, Alberta Health Services (AHS) communications officer, in the release.
“AHS is working to ensure residents continue to have access to the care they need during this time. Nursing staff will remain on-site in the (Emergency Department) providing triage and assessments, and referrals for patients to alternate (Emergency Departments) in surrounding communities as needed.”
The release continues that the other services at the facility are not impacted.
Anyone needing immediate emergency care is asked to call 911 and wait for an ambulance instead of attending the Stettler Emergency Department. Ambulances will transport patients to nearby facilities in Lacombe, Red Deer or Drumheller depending on patient condition.
Residents are also reminded that for non-emergency cases, Health Link is available by dialing 811 for health-related questions.
According to Mayor Sean Nolls, the closure is the fourth in the last six or eight months and council is attempting to work with AHS to find a solution to the issue.
The problem is, at least as far is council is concerned, they are unsure of what the cause of the issue is, something that Nolls feels is a failure on his part and on the part of AHS.
“It’s something council takes very seriously,” said Nolls.
Nolls noted he had reached out to AHS communications regarding the latest closure but had not yet heard back.
Editor’s note: This story was edited and updated to include Mayor Nolls comments.