One more employee at Bow Island Health Centre could save lives, a small price to pay for safety

The recent decision to lock Bow Island Health Centre doors at 5 p.m. makes absolutely no sense. While the safety of the staff is a factor, I believe the decision has more to do with saving money by getting rid of an important employee than it does safety concerns.

Bow Island and district have worked long and hard to attract quality doctors and was successful in adding three new doctors along with a good doctor already on staff. Until now, the busy hospital has run efficiently with lots of active community support. Locking the doors at 5 p.m. endangers emergency patients and inconveniences visitors. When nurses are busy elsewhere in the hospital they cannot answer the telephone or run to open the door in an emergency situation.

When a victim finds the door locked, panic could set in and he or she may be unable to read the instructions. A staff member may not even know anyone is there.

For the safety of all concerned, the solution could be to re-hire the admitting clerk who sits in the desk position with a clear view of the doors until 9 p.m. until other staff is less busy. The clerk’s job is to answer the phone, open the door for visitors, call the doctor and emergency nurse if needed and have the help in place quickly. This clerk helps with filing or bookwork not completed during the regular hours. This clerk also monitors the emergency radio and alerts the nurses and doctors that an ambulance is on the way.

The cost of this one employee could save lives, a small price to pay for safety. I sometimes think the aim of Alberta Health is to close down all small hospitals so they can overload the city hospitals in the name of centralization.

Bow Island has served a large rural population efficiently and well. It would be criminal to ruin a good health centre in order to save a little money.

Ella Nelson, Burdett, AB.

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