COLD LAKE - The Lakeland region continues to be challenged by a lack of healthcare professionals, which has resulted in the City of Cold Lake seeing services interrupted, and the area MLA voicing frustrations.
On Thursday afternoon, the City of Cold Lake announced it had been notified by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that there will be period with no anesthetist coverage at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre, due to those staffing shortages.
In a memo to city officials and other stakeholders, AHS said there will be no anesthetist available from Thursday until Jan. 3 at 7 a.m. and then from Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. to Jan. 17 at 8 a.m.
"This will have impacts to several departments, including obstetrics, surgery, stroke and respiratory (COVID) response," states information from the City.
RELATED STORY - Lakeland Today initially reported on the service disruptions when the provincial map showing temporary facility bed/space reductions showed a list of possible disruptions for the Cold Lake hospital.
Mayor Craig Copeland said the news was disheartening.
“We’ve known for a long time that more doctors are needed in the community, and we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on efforts to attract and retain doctors to avoid interruptions in healthcare service, however, there always seems to be some sort of red tape and barriers in AHS’s process. We remain committed to ensuring that our healthcare centre is adequately staffed, despite raising these concerns for many years," said Copeland.
Speaking with Lakeland Today on Thursday afternoon, Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA David Hanson said he was frustrated with the situation, and specifically frustrated with AHS.
“I put this all on AHS," said Hanson, speaking to health care disruptions in the Lakeland. Both St. Paul and Elk Point centres also continue to see temporary closures or service disruptions due to a lack of staff.
“Now we have a city of 15,000 people that can’t even deliver a baby," said Hanson. He noted that there is a "world-class surgeon" in Cold Lake who essentially has his hands tied due to no anesthetist being available.
As the MLA for the region, Hanson said he gets the "nasty emails and nasty phone calls," when people are frustrated, but the focus should be on AHS. He says he's been working alongside municipal leaders in an effort to better the situation.
Hanson believes the current situation could have been avoided, but concerns seem to "fall on deaf ears."
While the region may have some great facilities, it means nothing if there are no staff to work at those facilities, he adds.
Healthcare and access to doctors were identified as a top priority for City of Cold Lake council. The City says it will be taking further steps to "engage residents and shed light on the community’s concerns."
More to come...