Royal Alexandra Hospital emergency department experiences heat issue during extreme cold

The Royal Alexandra Hospital emergency department pictured during extremely cold temperatures Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Global News

Heat was restored to the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s emergency department Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Alberta Health Services said it was working to resolve a heat issue in the emergency department’s triage area and waiting room.

In a news release shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, the health authority said patients arriving at the hospital by EMS were diverted for a period of time earlier in the morning due to “a temporary heat disruption.” That diversion is no longer in place, AHS added.

AHS said an issue with an air-handling system caused the heating issue in the hospital’s emergency department triage and waiting room. The issue was caused by the extremely cold temperatures being experienced in Edmonton and across Alberta.

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Another area within the emergency department was used to keep people warm while they wait. Temporary heaters were also used.

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“The facilities and engineering team at the RAH have identified the problem with the air-handling system and are working diligently to repair the issue as quickly as possible,” AHS said.

The hospital’s emergency department remained open to walk-in patients, and the hospital worked to ensure patients continue to have access to the care they need, AHS said.

AHS said the extreme cold also led to pipes bursting in the ambulance bay and in the front entrance. The infrastructure challenges had “minimal impact on patient care,” according to AHS. Other acute care sites in the Edmonton zone provided support when needed.

All of Alberta remained under an extreme cold warning on Friday, with temperatures dipping into the -40s and wind chill values plummeting into the -50s.

The temperature in Edmonton around 11 a.m. Friday was -35 C, according to Environment Canada.

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