Some surgeries were being diverted from the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre over the weekend.
On Friday, a memo was sent to hospital staff to inform them that emergency general surgeries are temporarily being diverted from the Red Deer facility to other communities.
“It’s not something we want to do. It’s not a decision we made lightly,” said Glen Vajcner, one of the general surgeons at the Red Deer hospital.
“Continuing at the pace of things we have been would potentially lead to unsafe positions for patients, so we had to say we need send some of these patients out until the issues made to patient-safety get resolved.”
Stable emergency patients are the ones being diverted, Vajcner explained.
“Any patient that shows up that is unstable, life or limb, we will take care of them,” said Vajcner.
“If we have patients who have had elective surgeries that have an immediate post-operative complication, we will take care of those patients too – they are our patients.”
There is no defined end-date for the temporary diversion, Vajcner said, adding he is grateful for the local and provincial support they have received, as well as the support from surgeons at other facilities.
Depending on their condition, patients will be diverted to other surgical sites in the Central Zone or to facilities in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta Health Services confirmed Saturday morning.
“Patients with scheduled procedures, emergency cases that cannot safely be transferred, and on-call coverage for existing inpatients will continued to be provided at RDRHC,” AHS said in a statement.
“We acknowledge that this will cause some stress and anxiety to some of our surgical patients, however we have exhausted all efforts to avoid this temporary diversion.”
This diversion is specific to the general surgery program only at this time, AHS noted.
“Procedures seen by the program can include conditions like appendicitis, bowel resections, laparotomies and gallbladder removals,” said AHS.
“These measures are due to a number of factors, including a shortage of clinical assistants who support the general surgery program.
“The situation will be reviewed and evaluated regularly as recruitment efforts continue and will be lifted as soon as possible.”
David Shepherd, NDP health critic, called this an “absolute failure of leadership” from the United Conservative Party.
“Earlier this week, ambulances lined up 14 deep in the Red Deer hospital parking lot waiting to reach emergency care and now there is no capacity for surgeries in Alberta’s third-largest city. We can’t trust the UCP to deliver public healthcare for people when and where they need it,” said Shepherd.
“First the parking lot, now the highway for patients in Central Alberta, thanks to the UCP.”