A group of 65 Alberta infectious disease physicians penned an open letter calling on the province to immediately require proof of vaccination to access indoor public places on Monday.
The call came as COVID ICU admissions reached an all time high of 198 and AHS entered its second week of postponing scheduled surgeries, affecting hundreds of patients.
Some of the cancellations have included cancer and cardiac procedures.
CTV News has requested the total number of cancelled surgeries in the province since they were first announced last week. AHS said on Monday it does not have a number available.
“I think that whenever you start seeing this level of postponement of surgeries, and the redeployments that we’re seeing we know that the situation is very, very serious,” said Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease physician and one of the signatories. “[It means] the health care system is in crisis, and that urgent action is necessary.”
She said there were no other measures that show signs of curbing the surge in COVID cases and the steep rise in hospital admissions.
As of Monday evening, 803 people were in hospital with COVID, with nearly 80 per cent not fully vaccinated. Among people in ICU, that number rises to between 90 and 95 per cent depending on the day.
“What we need is real leadership. I think businesses are asking for it, healthcare workers are asking for it,” said Asadi. “The people of Alberta are asking for it. And so we believe urgent action is necessary.”
According to Canadian Institute for Health Information, the average cost of treating a COVID ICU admission in Alberta is $74,568. The average cost for a COVID hospitalization is $19,101.
Based on Monday’s totals, the cost of treating the existing cases exceeds $26.3 million.
One Alberta physician who teaches health care management at Haskayne School of Business said while people should have a right to exercise their freedom of choice around vaccinations, they should be made to take responsibility for their decision.
“The rest of the taxpayers shouldn’t pay for the cost of the freedom of a very small number of people,” said Dr. Mali Mansouri.
She added that the current cancellations carry a cost to patients, the health care system, and the education of future medical workers.
She said it may be the right decision given where the province is at, but it is borrowing from the future.
“I expect Premier Jason Kenney and the decision makers in Alberta Health Services to have [. . .] more transparent communication with the public with regard to both direct and indirect costs of COVID,” said Mansouri. “Also the cost which people who are not vaccinated creates for society as a whole.”
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