The Alberta health authority has canceled all elective surgeries and many outpatient procedures for the rest of the week in the Calgary area as rapidly increasing COVID-19 infections fill intensive care units.
Alberta Health Services, or AHS, said it has made the decision to ensure there are enough resources to staff intensive and critical care units. He suggested that the agency should postpone additional procedures to respond to a “developing situation”.
The agency had previously canceled between 30 and 60% of elective surgeries in its five health zones.
The province’s intensive care units were 87% full on Wednesday, with 147 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care – a number that has more than doubled in the past two weeks. AHS said there are 258 intensive care beds in the province, which includes 85 beds that have been added beyond the province’s usual capacity.
The government released modeling last week that showed the province could see more hospital and intensive care admissions by the end of the month than at any other time during the pandemic. The CEO of AHS said the situation was made worse by the lack of staff.
Edmonton emergency doctor Dr Shazma Mithani said a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messages from the province created a “catastrophic” situation.
Her biggest fear, she said, is that doctors will need to triage patients if hospital admissions continue to rise.
“We don’t want to have to make those decisions where we choose who should receive (intensive) care or not. And we are getting closer by the day, ”said Dr Mithani.
Premier Jason Kenney last Friday cited the deteriorating situation in Alberta hospitals as he announced the return of a province-wide mask warrant and a curfew on sales alcohol in bars and restaurants.
He also announced a program to pay people $ 100 to get the first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accusing the unvaccinated of clogging hospitals across the province. Alberta has the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
The province lifted nearly all of its public health measures over the summer, citing data from the UK that showed COVID-19 infections had become ‘decoupled’ from hospital admissions and that an increase of cases would not threaten the health care system. Mr. Kenney admitted last week that the theory didn’t work.
The premier has boasted throughout the pandemic that the province has had the least restrictive public health measures in the country, and in recent weeks his government has been largely silent in August as infections soared. The Prime Minister had previously dismissed the possibility of a severe fourth wave and a member of his staff mocked the critics in June with a tweet that read: “The pandemic is ending. Accept it. “
Per capita infection and hospitalization rates in Alberta are the second highest in Canada, behind Saskatchewan. Infection rates in the Prairies are more than five times higher than in Ontario.
Alberta and Saskatchewan also have the highest per capita death rates over the past two weeks, more than double the national rate.
With a report from The Canadian Press
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