Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Temporary Hospital Shutdown Sheds Light on Northern Ontario Physician Shortages


Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital (Photo/Hospital Website)

The Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital in Northwestern Ontario, in a remote small town about 330 miles (535 km) northwest of Thunder Bay, shut down its emergency department for 24 hours over the weekend of March 26-27 due to a lack of physicians. Residents experiencing medical emergencies had to travel about 130 miles to the nearest open hospital, in Dryden.

During the closure from 8 a.m. Saturday, March 26, to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 27, four emergency calls were made in the Red Lake area. One caller, whose emergency occurred Sunday morning near the end of the closure, was able to be admitted to Red Lake Margaret Cochenour. The others were transported by land ambulance to Dryden Regional Health Center.

"The consequences – as far as we understand them to be, with limitations of confidentiality – were inconvenient, but not life-threatening," said Dr. Akila Whiley, the hospital's chief of staff. "I think we got lucky that day."


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