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Irvine is named Emergency Physician of the Year 2024

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“I feel a really strong connection to the people and the land of northern Saskatchewan,” he explained.

“Unfortunately, the health consequences and social determinants of health [is low] in the middle of Canada in northern Saskatchewan. That means that health care and quality health care are really needed.”

Although he is primarily a general practitioner, he spends a lot of time in the emergency department at La Ronge Health Centre, where he often sees patients who are at their most critically ill.

He noted that such a condition is caused by a number of factors, such as overcrowding in housing, past and current trauma. These health factors lead to serious injuries, substance abuse and a range of diseases.

“Since construction, our emergency department utilization has increased significantly,” Irvine added.

“A little background knowledge: [emergency] was built in 1996. At that time, there was an average of 20 visits per day per 24 hours. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, there was an average of 45 patients per 24 hours. At the same time, Prince Albert and Saskatoon referral centres have become increasingly full, meaning we have to house sicker and sicker patients for longer periods of time.”

Irvine would like to see improvements in the emergency department in the coming years. He was involved in a redesign with the Department of Health and said a CT scanner would be an asset to the department. Unfortunately, there have been no further discussions about the redesign for years.

“As the emergency situation becomes more pressing, I really hope that the project will be restarted because our emergency situation is not large enough or does not have enough resources to serve both La Ronge and our surrounding communities all the way to Wollaston Lake as well as we should,” Irvine said.

“It's also really time for people in northern Saskatchewan to have access to a CT scanner and that really needs to be part of a redesign of emergency care. There are many components that make having a CT scanner in La Ronge possible. That means patients get care faster, they get more accurate treatment and they spend less time in EMS. Less time in EMS means faster emergency responses in communities.”

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