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AHS explains to Lakeland residents about emergency room admissions

Questions from residents on emergency department admissions sparks AHS response

LAKELAND - Just a few weeks after a social media post on a Lakeland area community-concerns page created comments on access to local hospital emergency rooms, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has issued an information sheet on patient care for people entering local emergency departments. 

“Alberta Health Services is always working to manage the capacity in emergency departments to ensure safe, efficient, high-quality care. This includes at our local AHS healthcare centres in St. Paul, Elk Point and Cold Lake,” says Adele Richardson, Director, Clinical Operations, Area 8, AHS North Zone 

Lakeland This Week found several postings from the end of January this year on a St. Paul social media site where a woman was questioning the way patients are admitted into emergency departments after she saw a woman with a young child admitted before an elderly woman who had been waiting for some time. 

While a string of comments offered advice and possible reasons, the AHS update issued last week has some official explanations. 

“There can be times when demand in our emergency departments reaches high levels. This may be a result of several factors, such as seasonal illnesses, which have caused increased hospitalizations and staff absences, or an increase in seriously ill patients requiring care,” notes Richardson. “It’s important to remember the sickest patients are given priority and no patients are turned away.” 

Health officials say emergency departments continue to be the place to go in an emergency. 

“If Albertans have a medical emergency, or come to an emergency department, they will always receive care,” Richardson explained. 

Other options 

For patients not experiencing an emergency health matter, other options are available. 

“Let’s be clear, if you need emergency care, Alberta’s emergency departments and our healthcare teams are here for you. If you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening situation, always call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department,” said Richardson. “However, if you’re not experiencing an emergency, then you have other care options.” 

Those options can include the AHS website, calling 811 for Alberta Health Link or contacting family doctors, medical clinics, or pharmacies.  

“It’s so important that Albertans understand the options they have for care across the province. 

AHS wants Albertans to get the right care in the right place,” she said. 

Information on the AHS website is available in Arabic, French, Vietnamese, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Punjabi and Spanish.  

Richardson also said the AHS department’s website has information that can help parents and caregivers know when to seek medical attention. The information is provided by experts from pediatric Emergency Medicine experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Stollery Children’s Hospital.  

On Monday morning, AHS did confirm that the update had been specific to the region and had been provided following questions from Lakeland residents.

"Local leadership had received some questions from community members, so they wanted to offer this information to the community in hopes of addressing some of the questions they had received.," said AHS spokesperson Logan Clow.


Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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