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AHS launches new website with information on bed reductions

NDP calls on provincial government to do more to combat bed reductions
Rocky Mountain House Health Centre is temporarily closing six acute care beds because of a nursing shortage. (Photo from Rocky Health Foundation)

Alberta Health Services is providing the public with new data about short-term, temporary bed reductions.

According to the release, AHS says the vast majority of emergency or acute care beds remain available for patients. There are about 8,500 acute care beds across the province, 98.2 per cent of those are open and available. Alberta has about 1,200 emergency department care spaces and 97.1 per cent of those are also available.

AHS added that short-term, temporary closures have a minimal impact on their ability to provide care and often take place in the summer because of staff holidays or personal time.

According to the new interactive map, there are 26 communities across the province, including urban and rural locations with bed closures due to staffing shortages.

All emergency department beds are closed in Elk Point and Hardisty. While Elk Point is expected to reopen Aug. 1, Hardisty won’t reopen until Oct. 21.

Wetaskiwin also doesn’t have any C-section availability until mid-August, despite delivering 16 babies through C-section in May.

“The UCP are essentially telling Albertans not to get hurt or sick if you live in these communities. If you’re working at the tank farm in Hardisty and have an accident, or have a complicated pregnancy and live in Wetaskiwin, you could be forced to drive half an hour away to get help,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley.

“That is dangerous. This is a crisis and the UCP needs to step up and fix it.”

In acute care in Red Deer, there are six fewer beds and seven fewer in the emergency department, both due to temporary staff shortage because of vacations, vacancies and ongoing recruitment. The acute care reduction is expected to end on Sept. 9 and on Aug. 12 in the emergency department.

Lacombe has also lost 11 of its 35 acute care beds because of vacations, vacancies and ongoing recruitment, but anticipates those to be operational again by Saturday.

In Sundre, there is a lack of physicians in Obstetrics and they anticipate that vacancy to be filled by October.

Rocky Mountain House is without six of its 31 acute care beds because of staff shortages and AHS anticipates that to end on Aug. 31.

The new map will be updated Monday to Friday at 5 p.m.