13 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Calgary care centre, Hinshaw says

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Up to 2,250 acute hospital beds in the province are being freed up ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, the vice-president of Alberta Health Services said Thursday.

AHS staff and physicians have been working “feverishly” over the past several weeks to plan for the space needed to care for Albertans, Dr. Mark Joffe said at the daily COVID-19 update.

“(We’re) going through every possible location within our hospitals to see where care might be provided in the event we need to,” Joffe said.

Joffe said Alberta has approximately 8,500 beds and most of the required 2,250 will come from those spaces. Postponement of all elective surgeries and procedures will free up space and AHS expects at least 1,500 beds will be available by April 8.

“At the same time I know we need to find additional beds and our teams are doing exactly that,” Joffe said.

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, gives a daily update on the province's COVID-19 pandemic response next to Randy Dziwenka, American Sign Language interpreter, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, gives a daily update on the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response next to Randy Dziwenka, American Sign Language interpreter, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

AHS is looking at the use of over-capacity spaces such as alcoves and hallways for acute beds and using operating rooms and surgical recovery rooms as intensive care spaces, which could free up 750 additional spaces available by April 15. There is also the possibility of adding a third bed into a two-bedroom space if safe distancing can be maintained.