For the second time this week, the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre will be forced to close its emergency department because of a lack of physician coverage.
In a release Wednesday at 5 p.m., Alberta Health Services said the ED will be closed from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday.
“As a result of this coverage gap, the ED will be temporarily closed beginning at 7 a.m. Any patients within the department will be seen and treated. New patients presenting to the ED after that time will be assessed by nursing staff and referred to other emergency departments in surrounding communities depending on their condition,” AHS said in a release.
The Ponoka ED was also closed overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning because of a lack of coverage.
AHS noted that EMS will transport patients to other facilities if necessary, including the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre (35kms away), Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre (40kms away), and Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (56kms away).
EMS crews returning from 911 calls with patients requiring hospital care will re-route to alternative facilities as well.
Patients with non-urgent conditions will be redirected to other available care options as appropriate to their needs. These options include calling Health Link at 811 for medical information and advice, returning to the ED when it reopens later in the day if necessary, or following up with a primary care provider.
All other services at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre will continue to operate as normal during this temporary ED closure.
“AHS is grateful for the support of surrounding healthcare centres and medical staff, especially those who have stepped in to help minimize this coverage gap as much as possible. We would also like to thank the community for its understanding,” AHS said in a news release.