It’s time for Alberta Health to come clean with rural hospitals

The community of Consort is in crisis; we are in the emergency room, we are being triaged by Alberta Health Services

Dear Editor:

The community of Consort is in crisis; we are in the emergency room, we are being triaged by Alberta Health Services, and from the response thus far, we are acutely aware that AHS deems us low in priority.

It has been two years since Dr. Chris Eagle, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, targeted increased access and reduced wait times as needing improvement.

However, in 2011, Alberta Health Services shut down the Consort Hospital’s after-hours on-call emergency and closed its acute-care beds.

At the time, AHS assured us that once there were two physicians in the community, the acute-care beds would open and emergency services would begin again.

Since that time, the community has had to depend on the surrounding communities. It has been a drain on the patients and the ambulance system, as well as a drain on the medical staffs of all the affected hospitals.

In December 2012, the Consort and District Medical Centre Society signed its second physician and it expected the acute-care beds to open. Emails to AHS Central Zone staff members Kerry Bales, Dr. Evan Lundall and Cathy McDonald garnered little or no response.

This community is being stonewalled in their demands for information surrounding its hospital and what Alberta Health Services intends to do about its promise to open acute-care beds.

It is ironic indeed that the very staff charged with decreasing emergency and acute wait times should be the ones responsible for increasing the wait times for an entire community.

How long should a community be kept waiting before AHS needs to respond to the community’s demands?

The Consort and District Medical Centre Society previously sent two invitations to meet with us to discuss their plans to open the acute-care beds and they have not complied.

We are issuing our third invitation and advise them that it is time to reveal their plans for delivery of services. As a community, we feel that the response time shows callous disrespect for our concerns and needs.

In an emergency room, we hold doctors and nurses responsible for the wait times, but who is held accountable for this communities’ critical wait for a return to services?

We call on Alberta Health Services to reveal results of its planning meetings for the rural hospitals and for delivering care to all the remote rural areas.

What direction does it intend to take the people of Alberta — less minutes in the emergency room or more miles to an emergency room?

Consort and District Medical Centre Society