Obstetrical, surgical services paused at healthcare centre in Lac La Biche

May 18, 2022

LAC LA BICHE – Alberta Health Services (AHS) is temporarily pausing surgical and obstetric services at the William J. Cadzow (Lac La Biche) Healthcare Centre due to a lack of physicians with general practice anesthesia (GPA) skills and an inability to secure temporary (locum) GPA coverage.

Patient safety and care remain the highest priorities for AHS. The organization is working hard to ensure everyone will receive the care they need through its partnership with EMS and a robust regional network of healthcare centres.

“This pause in services is necessary as we work to recruit permanent physicians with general practice anesthesia skills, as well as locum coverage,” says Stacy Greening, Chief Zone Officer with AHS North Zone. “Ensuring patients have the care they need at their local facility is of utmost importance to us and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

There is no set date for the return of local obstetrical and surgical services. However, AHS is seeking both permanent and locum coverage, and will restore services as soon as possible.

All pregnant patients will be contacted through their family physician or midwife to ensure they have the support they need, including a plan for where they will safely deliver their babies. Patients will be able to receive pre- and postnatal care for themselves and their infant(s) with their usual healthcare providers in Lac La Biche.

Imminent unexpected deliveries will be managed through the emergency department. There are two local midwives and a physician who are available to support Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre with labour and delivery patients.

Recruitment of physicians is a challenge across North America. It can be particularly difficult outside of urban centres and with practitioners who bring specialty skills, such as anesthesia.

AHS has a dedicated team focused on recruitment efforts. These efforts include aggressively pursuing both Canadian and internationally trained physicians; reassessing current locum experience for recruitment opportunities; working to support flexible roles and scope of practice within AHS; consulting with post-graduate medical education programs to enable work experience in non-urban facilities, and exploring options to improve the international sponsorship program.

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.