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Commentary: Emergency care vital to all

“Does AHS have a proactive plan to increase capacity and to deal with worsening overcapacity issues in the coming weeks?”
opinion

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to rage in Alberta – with many, many new cases being identified every day, including in this region – the pressure on the province’s health-care system continues to be very high.

Whether enough is being done to support the doctors, nurses and others who are manning the front lines in the COVID battle remains an open question.

What is known is that emergency room physicians across Alberta are themselves now warning Alberta Health Services (AHS), and the Kenney government, that a worsening access to care situation is reaching crisis levels.

A recently penned open letter to AHS leadership, hundreds of emergency room doctors warned that various factors have led to a very concerning situation.

“Increasing emergency room volumes and complexity, in addition to significant staffing pressures and shortages, are being compounded by the fatigue and complexity of continuing to deal with more than 18 months of a very difficult pandemic,” said Dr. Paul Park, president of the emergency medicine section of the Alberta Medical Association.

“Does AHS have a proactive plan to increase capacity and to deal with worsening overcapacity issues in the coming weeks?”

Emergency room services play a critical role in saving the lives of injured and sick residents and visitors across the province. For example, in this district people injured in agricultural or recreational mishaps routinely rely absolutely on timely emergency care.

As such, should the current Alberta emergency care situation become worse, as the doctors are warning it might, it would represent a unacceptable danger to the well-being of all citizens, regardless of age, place of residence, or political persuasion.

Hopefully MLAs, physicians and others can put aside any differences and work together to make sure the critical access to care situation does not become worse in the days and weeks ahead.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put unprecedented pressure on the health-care system, and emergency room care in particular, the time for putting cooperation and teamwork first has arrived.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.