Stettler and area residents going to the local healthcare centre’s emergency room may see some unfamiliar faces there.
As antagonism between the Alberta government and doctors continues, physicians at two Stettler clinics confirmed most of them will no longer work in the local ER.
A social media message circulating the week of Mar. 2 included a Twitter quote from Stettler physician JB Lombaard, stating “Financially and personally, I had to make a decision on whether it was still viable to me.” Lombaard was referring to providing ER services.
The message also contained a statement that six out of 10 Stettler physicians were joining Lombaard, who works at the Stettler Medical Clinic.
Efforts to contact Dr. Lombaard by deadline were unsuccessful.
Contacted Mar. 6, the Heartland Medical Clinic, Stettler’s other medical clinic, confirmed through a spokesperson who preferred to remain anonymous that seven of 10 Stettler physicians were revoking emergency room services at this time.
“They’ve put in their resignations for that,” the spokesperson said by phone.
The ECA Review contacted Alberta Health Services Mar. 9 to confirm the cancellations and effect these will have on the local hospital’s ER.
In an email, Allan Sinclair, senior operating officer Central Zone – South, stated, “Recent changes to the agreement between Alberta Health (AH) and the province’s physicians have prompted some physicians at the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre to serve notice that they are giving up their privileges in the Emergency Department.
“The privileges are connected to the Emergency Department only and do not affect other departments.
“We understand this has caused some concern in the community.
“We are putting strategies in place to ensure patients continue to receive the care they need. This includes working with physicians who have served notice to establish an adequate transition period that is in the best interest of patients using the process established by AHS and the Alberta Medical Association.
“We will also make every effort to secure temporary physicians to assist with coverage. And, in the event that it’s needed, we will redirect patients to nearby sites in the area, with EMS prepared to transport patients as required.
“Physicians are critical to the healthcare system. AHS is committed to working with them to ensure Albertans receive timely and appropriate access to safe, high quality, patient care,” added Sinclair.
A request for comment was left with Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner at his local office Mar. 6 and his Edmonton office Mar. 9 but the ECA Review didn’t hear from him by deadline.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter