First baby born at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre following the wildfire evacuations

June 17, 2016

FORT McMURRAY — Staff and physicians at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) in Fort McMurray are delighted to have delivered the first baby in Fort McMurray since the wildfire evacuation on May 3.

Eli Danny Roy Mercer was born to Melissa Taylor and Steven Mercer at 5:02 a.m. on June 17 and weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces. Mom and baby are doing well.

“We are so thrilled to see the NLRHC returning to normal service and we’re all so excited to mark this special birth,” says David Matear, Senior Operating Director, NLRHC and the Fort McMurray area for Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“All our staff along with contracted personnel have been working incredibly hard to return the NLRHC and all of our other AHS facilities to full service. We are here to make sure that the residents of Fort McMurray are taken care of as they return home and start to rebuild following this natural disaster.”

Eli is the second child for Melissa and Steven, and a little brother to Abagail who is almost two years old. Taylor says she’s grateful to have been able to deliver her second child home in her community.

“It was the deciding factor for us to come home, knowing that the hospital was back up and running,” she says. “I didn’t want to have my baby anywhere else.”

For Juanita Pilgrim, manager of the maternity/child unit at the NLRHC, this is a return to normal for her and her staff and she’s happy to see that.

“We’re all caregivers, it’s what we do. We’re so glad to be back doing our jobs and able to support moms in labour and help bring babies into the world. Fort McMurray is our home too,” Pilgrim says.

On June 13 the NLRHC began offering core Regional Hospital healthcare services. Staff are able to provide medical and surgical inpatient, ICU, OR, obstetrical, pediatric, and inpatient psychiatry services. This significantly adds to the emergency department, laboratory, and diagnostic imaging (XR and CT) services that returned June 1.

On June 21 the NLRHC will return to providing full comprehensive healthcare services. This will include Ambulatory Care services (like endoscopy and exercise stress testing) as well as dialysis and cancer care. The repatriation of NLRHC and Continuing/Long Term Care patients will begin on June 23.

With the lifting of the May 2 air quality advisory and continued restoration of health services at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC), AHS is no longer recommending the delayed return of children under the age of seven to Fort McMurray.

People previously recommended not to return to Fort McMurray – including people with a chronic or acute medical condition such as heart, lung, gastrointestinal or kidney disease - can now safely return to the community.

On June 21 the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre will return to providing full comprehensive health care services, seven weeks after patients and continuing care residents were safely and successfully evacuated from the hospital.

This includes Ambulatory Care services such as endoscopy and exercise stress testing. Dialysis services will resume on Wednesday, June 22, and the first five long term care patients evacuated from the hospital on May 3 will return on Thursday, June 23.

A full timeline for when the Cancer Care clinic will reopen is not yet known. More information will be shared as it becomes available, however we anticipate that service will resume in early July.

Because of that, AHS continues to recommend that individuals receiving cancer treatments delay their return to Fort McMurray. In the meantime, please call the Alberta Cancer Line at 1-888-432-8865.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.


For media inquiries, contact: Kirsten Goruk
AHS Communications