Starting Monday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is opening a number of spaces at two hospitals, one in Calgary and one in Edmonton, to help handle a suspected surge of cases from the Omicron wave of COVID-19.
Officials announced details of the beds, located inside the Pandemic Response Units (PRUs) at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic and Calgary’s South Health Campus, during a Thursday afternoon media conference.
Premier Jason Kenney said that decision was made because of the “continued pressure” from the Omicron variant.
“We have to be mindful of that, particularly in non-intensive care beds – regular ward beds. We now have a little over 1,000 patients admitted either for or with COVID in those beds,” he said.
Kenney adds those patients must be treated differently and isolated from the rest of the hospital population when necessary, which is where the PRUs come in.
Dr. Verna Yiu, the CEO of AHS, says the health-care system is at 89 per cent capacity. However, without the steps they’ve already taken to increase the number of care beds, Alberta would be closer to 93 per cent capacity.
“This can change really quickly,” she said. “This past weekend, the number of Albertans needing hospital care increased by almost 100 people. Our internal warning system tool shows us that we can expect numbers to keep increasing for a while yet.”
The spaces at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic and South Health Campus were set up earlier in the pandemic for urgent needs and, Yiu says, the surge of Omicron cases led to AHS activating some of those beds.
“The Kaye clinic will open 18 beds in the coming week, and there are plans to open another 18 beds the week of Jan. 31,” she said.
“South Health Campus unit will open 12 beds initially with plans to open another 12 beds. We will only use these beds if we have to and, going forward, additional beds will be opened as needed and as staff availability allows.”
HOSPITALIZATIONS WILL DROP SOON: HEALTH MINISTER
While hospitalizations related to new infections are still increasing, the government says the Omicron wave has plateaued and they will begin to drop, but it’s not known when that will happen.
“We know that cases will rise over the next few weeks and hospitalizations will rise with them,” Health Minister Jason Copping said. “They will come down, but we don’t know when.”
Copping says the focus needs to remain on health-care workers who are continuing to care for patients.
“I am grateful to everyone working in our hospitals across our health-care system, from EMS to labs to family doctor’s to home care and continuing care providers. We need all of you and we know that you’re tired, you’ve been through this for over two years and you need to get back to caring for patients in a more normal fashion.
“We all need to get back to living normally and we will get there.”
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