Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced the closure of the Boyle Healthcare Centre emergency department (ED) in a Dec. 23 press release.
Due to a lack of physician coverage it will be closed from Dec. 23 at 4 p.m. until Dec. 26 at 9 a.m. the release said.
Nurses will be on site during these hours to assess patients and refer them to other sites as needed.
EMS will remain available to the community and will bring patients to nearby facilities as needed.
"This closure may not occur if coverage is found," AHS said.
As part of an existing, temporary change in hours at the Boyle Healthcare Centre, the emergency department is also closed between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.
If coverage is found, shifts may be added with the goal of returning to regular hours.
Signage will be placed at the front door stating the closure and advising patients who have presented to the ED to call 911 and EMS is located nearby.
This is a temporary measure and AHS is working hard to ensure local residents continue to have access to the care they need during this time.
EMS calls will be re-routed, when necessary, to Athabasca 44 km west, Smoky Lake 77 km southeast and Lac La Biche 66 km north.
"Patients are asked to call 911 if they have a medical emergency during this time," said AHS.
Residents are reminded to call Health Link at 811, which is available 24/7 for non-emergency health-related questions.
They added they are thankful for the support of surrounding healthcare centres and medical staff and thanked the community for their patience and understanding.
"AHS continues to aggressively recruit healthcare professionals for rural areas," they said.
AHS added they have several initiatives underway to help support recruitment efforts including northern incentive programs as well as working closely with practicing professionals and the community.
The Alberta Rural Health Professions Action Plan is also in place, aiming to improve rural medical services for communities, support rural practitioners and recruit new talent.