Mental Health needs to be a Priority

David Hanson, MLA for Two Hills – St. Paul – Lac La Biche, has a meeting with the Honourable Sarah Hoffman, Alberta’s Health Minister on April 12th. The MLA intends to address the issue of mental health and lack of psychiatrists in the region.

Hanson brought the issue up during question period in the legislature.

“I get a lot of complaints about the wait times at the emergency rooms,” Hanson said after hearing from the constituents, he investigated the issue by talking to the doctors. What he discovered was interesting, “a lot of times the emergency ward is the only place they can out psych patients, because only half of our beds are open in the psych ward.”

The MLA discovered that although St. Therese St. Paul Health Care Centre is equipped with enough room to deal with the psychiatric patients, they do not have enough doctors and support staff.

“We’re trying to get five more beds opened up and take the pressure off the emergency department.”

Hanson is hopeful that his meeting with Minister Hoffman will shine a light on the doctor recruitment issues the area has been experiencing with Alberta Health Services.

The MLA spoke on a situation in Elk Point where the community has been approved for a third doctor, however with a year since approval gone by, there has yet to be a doctor placed there.

“Bonnyville is under Covenant Health and they seem to be having a lot more luck with recruiting,” other hospitals in the region are governed under AHS, “we need to get to the bottom of this.”

Hanson has received many letters from residents in the Elk Point area asking why a doctor has not yet been placed. The latest news from the community is there is a doctor interested, however he will have to go through a several month-long certification process.