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Rural Alberta town without an ER doctor this long weekend

A town southeast of Edmonton will be without an ER doctor until Tuesday because the emergency room is closed.

“We’re praying. We’re trusting that we won’t have any major incidents over the weekend,” Mayor Ben Kellert of Killam said Saturday.

Killam residents received a notice via social media Friday, noting that the town Health Care Centre would be closed for the weekend because there are no doctors available.

Dr. Paul Parks, president of emergency medicine with the Alberta Medical Association, commented on the issue.

“It’s very tough for the communities, and that kind of critical shortage in our rural communities is happening more and more across Alberta,” Parks said.

Patients requiring emergency care must travel to Daysland or Viking.

“If someone has to travel an extra half hour or longer to go to the next hospital in order to seek immediate emergency intervention, it could be life- or limb-threatening, for sure,” Parks said.

The mayor called the situation unfortunate and attributed it to COVID.

“With the pandemic raging, we’re just having a lot more fatigue, and we’re having a lot more illness and short coverage where basically doctors have been working extra to cover for illnesses,” Parks said.

While Kellert is concerned, he is urging people to be patient and understanding of what medical professionals are going through.

“If they don’t take care of themselves, they won’t be taking care of us,” Kellert said.
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