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Updated: Sylvan Lake urgent care centre shortens hours again because of doctor shortage

Hours reduced on Feb. 6 and Feb. 8

Sylvan Lake’s urgent care centre is reducing its hours again because of a doctor shortage.

Alberta Health Services announced on Monday morning Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service will be closed Monday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will be closed over the same time frame Wednesday, Feb. 8 due to a gap in physician coverage.

Regular hours of operation (7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.) will happen on Tuesday and resume on Thursday.

This temporary closure is necessary as the service cannot operate without a physician on site. Options to secure alternative coverage have been exhausted, and reducing hours is a last resort.

Having to reduce hours because a doctor is not available has been a recurring problem at the facility. Hours were reduced for two days about a month ago for the same reason.

Patients arriving at the Sylvan Lake Community Health Centre to receive care at the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service during the temporary closure will be redirected to other available care options as appropriate to their needs. These options include returning when the service resumes, booking an appointment with a family doctor, or calling Health Link at 811 for medical information and advice.

Patients can also access medical care for urgent health concerns from facilities in nearby communities, including Innisfail, Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer.

The urgent care centre offers diagnosis and treatment of urgent but non-life-threatening conditions.

NDP health critic David Shepherd said it was “disheartening” that the care centre was reducing its hours again and took aim at the UCP government for its health-care failures.

“Many rural hospitals and health-care centre’s across the province have had to reduce hours or temporarily close ERs because of the chaos in health care caused by Danielle Smith and the UCP government,” said Shepherd in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“As of Jan. 31, there were 31 temporary service disruptions in facilities across Alberta, according to AHS.

“Health-care centres in Ponoka, Beaverlodge, Boyle, Cold Lake, Grimshaw and Oyen have been impacted by the UCP’s failure to support frontline health-care workers in our province as doctors and nurses leave Alberta or leave the profession entirely.

An NDP government would launch the province’s biggest health-care recruitment campaign to fill service gaps, he said.

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