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Alberta is asking provinces for health resources as ICU capacity spans

Alberta is asking provinces for health resources as ICU capacity spans

There has been a 16 percent increase in ICU admissions in Alberta over the past week, the steepest increase at any time during the pandemic

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Provinces across Canada are examining whether they will provide health resources to Alberta as its ICUs span under the stress of COVID-19 fourth wave.

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Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu announced Wednesday that the health authority is taking the extraordinary step of requesting ICU space and skilled labor from other jurisdictions. This revelation came as Alberta went into a state of public health emergency and imposed extensive public health measures as the proliferation of COVID-19 threatens to overwhelm capacity in the province’s critical care areas.

Manitoba’s premier said Thursday that his province will work to offer support if asked, provided it continues to have capacity. Yiu also said that AHS is discussing potential patient transfers to Ontario, which has offered assistance to ICU capacity.

Quebec officials told Postmedia on Thursday afternoon that they had not received any requests for health care from other provinces.

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Meanwhile, both of Alberta’s neighbors say they will not be able to help the province during the ICU crisis, with officials from Saskatchewan and British Columbia saying current requirements for their own health systems prevent them from allocating resources to Alberta.

“However, we have told Alberta that if there are things we can do to support them, we will do it. And if we can take patients on in the future, we will, ”BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey also offered help in a statement on Twitter.

“The provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta have long had close ties, with so many traveling back and forth to work or visit with family,” Furey said.

“I spoke with Premier (Jason) Kenney today to offer any support we can provide in their fight against COVID-19. We are all. ”

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Alberta’s bid to strengthen its healthcare system capacity comes as the province faces the highest ICU admission rates in Canada. There are now 222 Albanians on the ICU with COVID-19; Ontario, which has three times the population of Alberta, has 191 COVID-19 ICU admissions. Alberta has a total of 896 admissions due to the virus.

Yiu said Thursday afternoon that Alberta had reached out to BC, Ontario and Manitoba. The province also planned to contact Quebec “and possibly another province” to ask for help.

“We have contacted other provinces to see if they have vacancies where Albertans can get the care they need and we ask them if they have skilled front-line staff who may be willing to come to Alberta to help us, ”Yiu said.

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“We remain hopeful that it will not reach these conditions as our teams continue to add critical care capacity in Alberta.

“I can not stress enough how serious the situation is in our hospitals. I promise you we will continue to do everything we can to provide care for Albertans. ”

AHS said Thursday afternoon that there are currently 268 patients in alta in Alberta ICUs, with 83 percent of them receiving treatment for COVID-19. The province has added 137 extra ICU beds to handle the demand, giving it 86 percent capacity. But without these extra surges, the province’s ICU capacity would be 155 percent.

There has been a 16 percent increase in ICU admissions in Alberta over the past week, the steepest increase at any time during the pandemic.

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Alberta could run out of manned ICU beds by Sept. 29, an internal AHS planning document suggests. But the opposition’s NDP argues that the projections use assumptions that are too optimistic, meaning capacity can be used up earlier than expected.

The projection makes several assumptions. That includes increases of just four to six COVID-19 patients on the ICU each day, despite Alberta recently having an average of about double that number. It also assumes that only 54 patients who do not have COVID-19 will be on the ICU on any given day, although this number has fluctuated significantly over the past few weeks.

“It’s very sober to look at the AHS projections into the first week of October, projections showing our hospitals without the dozens of beds needed to care for Albertans whose lives hang in balance,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley.

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Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks to the media about the COVID-19 health crisis in Alberta on Thursday, September 16, 2021.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks to the media about the COVID-19 health crisis in Alberta on Thursday, September 16, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young / Postmedia

AHS said in a statement that the planning document is “a snapshot of our planning at some point.” Yiu said Thursday she can not say exactly when she expects Alberta to reach its hospital limit, or how many ICU beds Alberta will be able to expand to.

Yiu said Alberta creates critical care capacity through a variety of strategies. Officials open all rooms that can be used for an ICU bed, including rooms normally used for surgeries, anesthesia, surgeries and recovery wards. Patients are transferred to the home or to continuing care facilities as soon as they are ready, even if it means moving them out of their community. And all operations that do not have to be performed within a three-day window are postponed.

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“AHS has moved to its highest level in terms of its rising response,” Yiu said. “There is no doubt that our ICUs are under increasing pressure.”

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Thursday morning that Ottawa is sending fans to Alberta to help with ICU capacity during the fourth wave, but Yiu stated that there is no shortage of fans in the province. There are more than 600 high-quality fans that can be used, she said, as well as 200 “less than optimal” machines.

Notley said Alberta must do everything possible to ensure that its health care system does not collapse, and Alberta does not activate its critical treatment framework, which would dictate who would receive treatment if there were insufficient resources available. .

“We need all the critical staff in critical care we can find from across the provinces, and must also find beds in other provinces to transfer our patients to,” she said.

“I am really devastated to think that vulnerable Albanians are being taken so far from home, so far from their families, and I am very frustrated because, as we know, this emergency was completely avoidable.”

With files from The Canadian Press

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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