Concerns raised after temporary barriers put up in Red Deer emergency room

Click to play video: 'Patients losing patience as health-care wait times skyrocket'
Patients losing patience as health-care wait times skyrocket
WATCH: Albertans are growing increasingly impatient over skyrocketing wait times for ERs and specialists across the province. As Tomasia DaSilva reports, health officials in Red Deer have had to actually erect makeshift stations. – Jan 8, 2024

Concerns are being raised after “temporary barriers” were put up at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency room over the weekend.

According to a statement from Alberta Health Services, the temporary dividers help limit the spread of respiratory illnesses, which are common at this time of the year.

“AHS is doing all it can to ensure we continue to provide patients with the care they need while reducing the risk of transmission and making patients as comfortable as possible,” said AHS media relations director James Wood.

“AHS has ordered more permanent dividers which will be installed as a long-term solution.”

But long wait times and delays aren’t just being felt in Red Deer.

Rebecca Truss, a Calgary resident, first came to Foothills Medical Centre more than a month ago because of a broken shoulder. Truss told Global News she waited from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. that day but went home without a sling nor a cast after she was told she wasn’t able to see a surgeon that evening.

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Truss managed to get surgery for her shoulder in the first week of January but had to go back to Foothills Medical Centre on Monday due to pain. She was told the wait would be more than five hours online.

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“I don’t think anybody is (happy with the health-care system) right now. It’s a really long wait,” she said.

“I brought books, my iPad … Something to keep (me) busy because it’s pretty boring sitting.”

Eva Millor, another Calgary resident, waited two and a half years to see a specialist after being referred by her general practitioner for pelvic floor issues.

She told Global News her husband waited more than two years for a knee replacement, and said the wait time was “unacceptable.” She added her doctor said a shortage of physicians has caused a backlog in the public health-care system.

“I can’t complain about the service I got once I got here, but getting here is obscene,” Millor said.

“(The health-care system) is not very good … When you get here two and a half years later — if you’ve lived that long — it’s grand.”

Andrea Smith, press secretary to Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange, said major urban hospitals across Alberta are experiencing high demand for services.

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She told Global News in an emailed statement that AHS continues to have capacity for anyone needing medical care.

“Additionally, AHS is taking various actions to manage patient flow, including expediting patient moves, collaborating with continuing care operators, and repatriating patients to care facilities closer to their homes,” Smith’s statement read.

But the Alberta NDP says more needs to be done to address the long wait times and delays in Alberta’s health-care system.

“We’re here to demand the following that Adriana Lagrange come forward and apologize on behalf of her government for failing her own constituents so badly while she is serving as the health minister,” said Dr. Luanne Metz, MLA for Calgary Varsity, at a news conference on Monday.

“We should actually be supporting primary care, not just repeatedly promising to do so. We should be preventing respiratory illnesses.

“We need to look upstream. This means looking at why there are so many people in the emergency departments. These are all options that need to be explored, and the minister needs to be transparent and accountable on all actions taken to address this crisis.”

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