Effective 7 a.m. Monday, the emergency department at the Devon General Hospital will no longer accept patients. In a release Thursday, Alberta Health Services said the move is in response to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
The DGH has 14 long-term care residents who are at heightened risk if exposed to COVID-19, according to AHS.
The hospital will also be converting 10 acute care beds to long-term care beds, providing additional temporary long-term capacity in the Edmonton Zone.
The closure of the emergency department and conversion of the beds at the hospital will remain in place until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Devon Mayor Ray Ralph said he and the rest of town council agree with AHS on the need to keep the hospital’s long term care patients safe.
“Once it gets into a nursing home or a seniors’ facility — and our hospital is no different if you’ve got the long-term care — once it gets in there, it gets out of control and it’s very difficult to control this pandemic right now,” Ralph said.
However, there were concerns around town about how long the E.R. would be closed, Ralph said, because years ago there was talk of shutting down the entire hospital.
“Some of the panic was, once they close the emergency unit down it’ll never come back again,” Ralph said.
The mayor said he had a phone call with Alberta Health Services and the health minister’s office to confirm the emergency department closure is actually temporary. “They reassured me it is,” he said.
Ralph said the hospital is well-used by not only town residents, but also people who live in surrounding areas like Leduc County and Parkland County.
“I just want our residents to be assured that we as a council, and we as a community, will be on top of AHS and the minister of health to make sure that when we do get through this pandemic, that we get our emergency room back open.”
Those seeking emergency care are encouraged to go to the Leduc Community Hospital, WestView Health Centre in Stony Plain or the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton.
Anyone requiring immediate medical attention should still call 911, AHS said.
On Wednesday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed an additional 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. That brings the total to 1,996 confirmed cases in the province.
The town of Devon is about 20 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.View link »