Emergencies in a “critical” situation in Alberta

Emergencies in a “critical” situation in Alberta

Emergencies in a “critical” situation in Alberta

Dr. Katie Lin is one of 192 physicians who, through an open letter, are sounding the alarm about emergency rooms in Alberta.

In an open letter released Wednesday, 192 doctors say emergency rooms in Alberta, including Calgary, are on the brink of collapse, partly as wait times are soaring.

< p class="e-p">Doctors are calling the province-wide health care situation critical, saying the overflow is preventing them from providing timely and effective care to patients.

The Signs of a capacity crisis are everywhere, the letter says.

“The waiting time in the Calgary emergency room has increased sharply, with patients sometimes waiting up to 3 p.m. to be seen by a doctor. [They] often get sicker while waiting. »

— Excerpt from an open letter from 192 emergency physicians. as independent physicians and not on behalf of Alberta Health Services (AHS) or the Alberta Medical Association, the physicians' union.

It is extremely painful to see sick patients in the hallways and waiting rooms when we want to provide the care they need, laments in an interview one of the signatories, Dr. Katie Lin.

Dr. Lin, who works in the emergency room at Foothills and Rockyview hospitals in Calgary, adds that while stressors are very different from what they were at the height of the pandemic, the pressure remains.

According to her, patient volumes are still very high and there are not enough beds or staff. This means she often treats patients in hallways and waiting rooms.

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Dr. Sean Fair reports that there are patients dying in waiting rooms in Calgary.

According to the signatories, it is common to have between 40 and 50 patients waiting to be seen by a doctor. People who are admitted to the ER can be stuck there for days due to lack of available beds, while sections of the ER are routinely closed due to understaffing.

< p class="e-p">According to Dr. Sean Fair, letter signer and emergency physician at Rockyview and Foothills hospitals, the situation is getting so bad it looks like a landslide. He says Albertans need to know this is a crisis.

“We we still have patients dying in waiting rooms. That hadn't happened in Calgary for years.

— Sean Fair, an emergency physician in Calgary

Alberta Health Services did not specifically respond to questions from CBC/Radio-Canada about deaths in waiting rooms.

A spokesperson responded by email that the health authority is taking note of some doctors' concerns and has reached out directly to them for a meeting.

For their part, the letter's signatories say the staffing shortage is worsening and some exhausted emergency room doctors and nurses are leaving the front lines.

They are going […] to other provinces, says Dr. Fair.

It is estimated that in Alberta , 650,000 people do not have a family doctor and, as Dr. Lin points out, more patients end up in the emergency room as a result.

The signatories therefore call for AHS, and any party that will form the next government, to tackle the problems of the health care system. They urge Albertans to vote with health care in mind.

With information from Jennifer Lee