Fort McMurray seniors moved to free beds for expected COVID-19 patients

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Moving seniors from Fort McMurray Hospital to care facilities in remote communities to free beds for patients with COVID-19 puts Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott in trouble.

Alberta Health Services recently transferred three seniors from the Northern Lights Regional Health Center to Lac La Biche, about 300 kilometers south of Fort McMurray.

Scott said he was concerned not only about the increased risk to the health of the elderly, but also the increased costs to the family and the lack of clarity as to when the elderly can return.

“Our region has been built on the hard work and commitment of our seniors,” said Scott in a statement on Sunday. “It is essential that we are aware of what is best for them and their families. “

Scott said he knew that the displacement of the elderly might be necessary to free up beds, but he wants to be sure that families and the elderly are properly consulted.

Mayor Don Scott is concerned about the departure of seniors from the Northern Lights Regional Health Center. (Jamie Malbeuf / CBC)

He wants the Alberta Minister of Health to order the hospital to involve a doctor in his assessment of each elderly person and to follow the doctor’s recommendations.

A spokesperson for the Alberta Health Services said the elderly were not displaced until they were “found to be safe and fit.”

Each move was made in consultation with a doctor and the senior’s family, said Kerry Williamson.

“There is an imperative to free up space in our hospitals,” said Williamson. “We need to find this space to make sure our hospitals are not overwhelmed. “

Williamson said Alberta will need to free 2,500 beds across the province for COVID-19 patients.

“These are extraordinary times and we just are not able to provide health care as we usually do,” he said.

Alberta health services will bring seniors back to their communities of origin as soon as possible, he said.

As of Monday morning, there were four cases of COVID-19 in Fort McMurray and two in the surrounding Wood Buffalo area.

Scott was not available for an interview at the time of publication.

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