There is serious concern from those in Edmonton’s medical community about a growing number of hospital bed closures across the province.
Depending on where you go, a visit to an emergency department in Alberta right now can come with longer than normal wait times.
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“At the Royal Alex, one of the busiest emergency departments in western Canada, they’ve had to close six beds,” United Nurses of Alberta director of labour relations, David Harrigan, said.
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The UNA said there are more than a dozen hospitals across Alberta that have recently had to close multiple ER beds.
“We’re rapidly getting to a crisis point all across the province, because there’s such a nursing shortage, AHS is forced to close beds,” Harrigan said.
Dr. Shazma Mithani works in the ER at the Royal Alexandra hospital. She said losing six of the 27 acute beds for the summer — and, at times, more — due to staffing shortages during the hospital’s busiest time of year is of great concern.
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“Unfortunately, what that ends up translating to — when we have beds closed in such a busy emergency department — is that patients wait longer and their care can be compromised because we simply don’t have the space to see them in,” Mithani said.
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Despite nurses being sent to other hospitals to fill in, Harrigan said this patch work will only put more stress on nurses and won’t work long-term.
“They’ve been run into the ground and then to hear that the way this is being acknowledged is by proposing wage cuts is just really disappointing.
“These are the heroes of our province and they don’t deserve to be treated this way,” Mithani said.
Earlier this week, the province said it was looking for a three per cent salary roll back for nurses, saying it needs to get its finances back on track.
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Harrigan said that might just be the last straw for some.
“A lot of them are telling us they’re seriously thinking of leaving the profession, that it’s just not worth their time to do this.”
Both Mithani and Harrigan said they hope this issue can be resolved soon.
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