Thanks to the recruitment of four new physicians and three new care spaces, the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre will be able to resume 24/7 operations as of Aug. 19 with enhanced service offerings, according to a press release from Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“Four new physicians have been recruited and will start work at the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre in the coming weeks, with recruitment efforts continuing to bring on more physicians,” stated Dr. Charles Wong, AHS' medical lead for urgent care in the Calgary Zone. “These new physician recruits will provide ongoing support and allow us to return to 24/7 urgent care services in Airdrie.”
Earlier this summer, AHS announced temporary overnight closures at the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre due to a gap in physician coverage. The temporary closures – which AHS stated were taken as a last resort to support patient and staff safety – occurred during the weekends starting in July, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. The closures meant Airdronians needing urgent care during those times would have to travel to neighbouring communities to seek treatment.
The release added that over $1 million in new funding will add staffing and three new care spaces "to further improve and enhance urgent care services in Airdrie."
The upgrades include the establishment of a a new "fast track" care model for patients with less serious health issues, with nurse practitioners and registered nurse positions recruited to support this model. The fast track model will operate eight hours a day and is anticipated to treat up to 30 per cent of daily visitors to the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre, according to the release.
“The Fast Track area will have three dedicated care spaces and see medically stable patients with concerns such as sprains and cuts, mild to moderate respiratory illness such as sore throats and coughs, mild to moderate pain such as headaches, urinary tract infections, skin infections or rashes,” stated Amanda Gosselin the director of rural health for AHS' Calgary Zone, in the news release. “This will enable the other medical staff to focus on those patients with more serious concerns.”
The provincial health authority's release added more staffing will be added to help improve triage and patient flow during peak hours.
"Registered Nurse and Licensed Practical Nurse positions will be recruited to support patient triage, which will help reduce wait times to be seen by the first care provider," the release stated.
The Airdrie Urgent Care Centre currently sees and cares for between 130 and 140 patients every 24 hours, according to AHS. Adding three new care spaces will bring the capacity to 16 treatment spaces.