Doctors sound alarm over closing of 20 beds at Alberta Hospital in April
Doctors at Alberta Hospital, and Alberta’s official opposition party, are sounding the alarm over a decision to shut down nearly two dozen beds at the facility in April.
The move would save nearly $3 million, but more money will be spent on opening new beds in other parts of Edmonton.
Doctors from Alberta Hospital in Edmonton have sent an open letter to Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, calling eliminating the beds for mental health patients a ‘recklessly misguided decision’.
“Physicians are advocates for their patients and they’ve reached out to me, and I’m very happy to meet with them and take care of their concerns,” Hoffman said.
The series of letters started coming out in February, and they were released to CTV News by the Wildrose Party – the opposition says the decision isn’t in the best interest of patients.
“It’s placing vulnerable Albertans at risk and so we’re bringing it to government’s attention for a reason, they need to reconsider whether this is a good idea,” Wildrose mental health critic Mark Smith said.
At this time, beds at Alberta Hospital are used as a transition for patients who have already been treated, but aren’t ready to be re-integrated into the community. Once those beds are eliminated in April, the province is planning on opening 20 new beds for mental health patients who need serious care at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
“If somebody doesn’t need to be in hospital anymore, then we don’t want to keep them in hospital even one day longer than they need to be,” Mark Snaterse with Alberta Health Services said.
AHS said the province will also put money towards three new community homes in central Edmonton, those are expected to have 15 beds for patients who have completed their treatment, but struggle to find some place to go once they have been released from hospital.
“Even after they leave hospital, we’re going to have social workers, recreational therapists, occupational therapists, peer support workers and then psychiatrists and mental health workers in the community that are going to continue to support these patients,” Snaterse said.
Doctors at Alberta Hospital call the community homes “welcome news”, but write that it shouldn’t be considered replacements for units being shut down.
Officials are still considering plans for the space in the future.
“We know that there is a significant demand for mental health supports, so we’re going to find ways to make sure that space is used effectively and the physicians and other health care workers there will be consulted on that,” Hoffman said.
With files from Shanelle Kaul