Alberta releases out-of-province workers as hospital pressures ease

AHS said she was “more grateful” for the support of the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Alberta is sending home workers from out of province who provided help amid the fourth wave of COVID-19 that has pushed the province’s health care system to its limits.

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Alberta Health Services said on Thursday it was “more grateful” for the support of the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Armed Forces and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but said it was ‘they could now manage current demands with local staff.

“Their help came at a time when our intensive care units – and our frontline healthcare teams – were under extreme pressure, due to the unprecedented number of Albertans in need of hospital care and care. intensive, “the health authority said in a statement.

“Now that we are seeing a slight easing of pressure on our intensive care units, we are confident that we can manage the current patient demand with our own frontline teams. “

Prime Minister Jason Kenney announced at the end of September out-of-province staff were coming to help Alberta cope with unprecedented pressure on hospitals and intensive care units due to COVID-19.

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The armed forces provided eight intensive care specialists who were working in Edmonton, while Red Cross medical workers were deployed in central Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador sent a medical team including intensive care personnel to Fort McMurray.

“Support from outside of Alberta has allowed us to increase our critical care capacity in Fort McMurray, provide much needed respite for some of our healthcare workers in the central and Edmonton areas. and assist AHS staff working in community settings such as testing and vaccination centers, ”AHS said.

“We would like to thank again those who came to our aid and we wish you a safe journey home. “

AHS added that the move is intended to ensure that external aid is available to other provinces or jurisdictions that may need it. This could include Saskatchewan, where the fourth wave overwhelmed hospitals and forced transfers of patients out of province to Ontario .

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Pressures on Alberta hospitals continue to ease after peaking at the end of September. But Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday patient levels remained at about the same level as at the height of the third wave.

As of Thursday, 779 Albertans were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 185 people in intensive care.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Many rural communities continue to fight the spread of COVID-19, especially in the northern and central areas, where outbreaks of the virus continue in 11 hospitals.

This includes the Rocky Mountain House Hospital and Care Center, which have been linked to 33 cases and resulted in patient care disruptions. The hospital has suspended acute care admissions and is diverting obstetric patients to other facilities for hospital deliveries, according to AHS.

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The hospital emergency room remains open and those who come to the hospital in active labor and cannot be transported safely are still being cared for at the site, the health authority said.

Many rural municipalities facing hospital outbreaks also have COVID-19 vaccination rates well below the provincial average. In Clearwater County, where Rocky Mountain House is located, 69.3 percent of eligible residents have at least one injection, compared to 86.8 percent province-wide.

Hinshaw said Alberta is working to ensure residents of rural areas have access to reliable vaccine information.

“As we have been doing for many months, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure vaccine availability,” Hinshaw said. “But, at the end of the day, it really continues to provide the opportunity (and) to keep providing the information.”

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Alberta on Thursday reported 531 new cases of COVID-19 out of 10,277 tests, which represents a test positivity rate of 5.4%. The number of active cases fell to 8,387, the lowest since August 23.

There were also 12 additional deaths from the virus, bringing the toll for the pandemic in Alberta to 3,085.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Hinshaw issued another reminder to Albertans to continue following public health guidelines during Halloween.

She said those who are not feeling well should stay home and not hand out candy. Those who cheat or spoil should wear masks and only go out with members of their household, she said.

Hinshaw added that Albertans are legally required to follow provincial health restrictions, which ban gatherings between unvaccinated adults and limit gatherings between vaccinated adults to 10 people and two households.

“Let’s make the right choices to make sure there won’t be a Halloween peak in two weeks,” she said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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