Southern Health-Sante Sud is providing more information regarding ongoing human resource challenges within the Altona community medical group that continue to affect emergency department services at the local hospital.
The health region confirmed at the end of October that a plan to resume emergency services 12 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Altona Community Memorial Health Centre by October 31st would not be the case.

Mona Spencer, Director of Acute Community Hospitals for Southern Health-Sante Sud, says restoration of emergency department services is all about striking a balance. 

"Currently, there is a fairly long wait time to get in to a primary care appointment at the clinic and so, trying to balance the primary care appointments with the emergency department openings as well as providing balance to what the physicians are able to support."

Spencer noted, the physicians are working hard to clear some of the clinic backlog that she says is also causing long appointment wait times. "If we can address some of our wait times, then it does balance things - will hopefully provide improved access to the community members."

Hiring another physician is always an option, added Spencer, noting there is work happening within the community and Southern Health-Sante Sud to further support the needs of the community and the doctors.

"We don't have a timeline as to when we are expecting to increase to twelve hours. We are though, re-evaluting things on a regular basis to be able to look at when we have the ability to increase (emergency) services," she said. 

As a result, the ER at the hospital in Altona will operate Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.