Since the summer there have continued to be temporary closures of the Sylvan Lake Advanced Ambulatory Care Service, which remain a concern not only for residents and visitors to the community of Sylvan Lake, but to Alberta Health Services (AHS) as well.
We want to assure the community that AHS – and our partners – are working on several fronts to resolve these closures.
This includes continued efforts to recruit additional resources, including new physicians, to the community and for the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service specifically. We have heard from physicians that they have experienced increased demand for the primary care services provided in their private clinics, and understandably this can have an impact on their ability to pick up shifts for other services like the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service.
Local physicians in Sylvan Lake aren’t required to provide coverage for the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service, and not all do. That means recruiting additional resources for both the community (to help support access to family physicians) and the Service specifically (to increase the number of physicians able to take shifts) is a necessary part of resolving the temporary closure issues.
There are two new physicians who will begin supporting the community this spring. One will be based in the community with a private practice, as well as shifts at the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service, once they have completed the necessary assessments required by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
The other physician secured to provide support will travel from a nearby community to take shifts at the Service on a regular basis beginning next month.
Interviews for two additional physician recruits have been completed this week, with reference checks underway.
We know gaps in service are frustrating, and that it can seem like a long time before new recruits have an impact in the community. We have heard clearly that making temporary changes to the hours of operation for the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service is not something the community would support. In addition to the recruitment work AHS continues to work on other strategies to minimize coverage gaps.
Other efforts underway include onboarding new locum physicians who have expressed willingness to travel to Sylvan Lake and support the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service, as well as exploring the ability to utilize a Nurse Practitioner as a care provider.
We have identified a Nurse Practitioner who is willing and interested in supporting the Service at this time.
We know the community wants to see consistent hours restored for the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service, and so do we. It is important not only for those who utilize the Service, but for our staff and physicians as well. Alberta Health Services is incredibly grateful for the work of local physicians in supporting the Service, and for all that the healthcare teams do every day in the community.
We will continue to collaborate with the Town and the Urgent Care Committee to support the Advanced Ambulatory Care Service for those who staff it, and those who rely on it.