Emergency Medical Services will be diverted from seven Alberta emergency departments “for a period of time” when Wave 2 of Connect Care launches Saturday.
However, Wave 2 hospital EDs will still receive any ambulances with critical patients, AHS stressed.
The second phase of implementing Alberta’s new electronic system begins early Saturday morning.
Connect Care replaces all paper charting, medication records, lab requisitions and results, and patient medical histories. It will allow health-care providers a central access point to patient information, common clinical standards and best health-care practices.
The Wave 2 launch on Oct. 24 includes suburban acute and combined acute and long-term care sites in the Edmonton zone, pharmacy and DI sites in suburban Edmonton and Alberta Precision Labs in suburban Edmonton.
There are seven suburban acute sites going live with Connect Care on Saturday: Devon General Hospital, Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital, Leduc Community Hospital, Strathcona Community Hospital, Sturgeon Community Hospital, WestView Health Centre, and North East Community Health Centre.
“All emergency departments at all Wave 2 sites will be open to walk-in traffic, though we expect some delays as staff make the transition to the new system,” Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson told Global News.
“EMS will be diverted from Wave 2 sites for a period of time but EDs across the zone have prepared to facilitate the increase volume for the initial 12-24 hour period at the beginning of the launch,” he said.
Non-critical EMS patients could be diverted to the University of Alberta Hospital, Royal Alex, Grey Nuns and Misericordia.
The same kind of EMS diversion happened when AHS launched Wave 1 of Connect Care in Nov. 3 2019, “with no impact on patient care,” Williamson said.
He added that AHS EMS has added extra ambulances, supervisors and Paramedic Response Units to make sure there is emergency coverage during the transition. The Integrated Operations Centre and a Zone Emergency Operations Centre in the Edmonton Zone will monitor the situation and make adjustments as required, Williamson said.
On Thursday, Alberta Health Services made the decision to postpone some surgeries in the Edmonton zone. In an email to Global News, AHS said about 30 per cent of all non-urgent surgeries are affected.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the announcement during her update on the novel coronavirus situation in the province, when another 427 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.
“As a result in this rise in cases and the need for current and future hospital beds, Edmonton zone is activating new surge capacity measures in order to support safe patient flow through the hospitals in the area,” the chief medical officer of health said.
AHS has made the decision to postpone non-urgent surgeries as well as some ambulatory care — also known as outpatient care — visits in the Edmonton zone.
The decision was made in response to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the zone and for the “need for current and future hospital beds,” according to Hinshaw.
“AHS is taking these measures to ensure we are able to provide care to those who most need it.”
Williamson said the the temporary changes announced Thursday “should have a positive impact on patient flow through the zone, including for ambulances and EMS patients in the area.”
The phased rollout started Nov. 3, 2019 in several Edmonton sites, including the University of Alberta Hospital, Stollery Children’s Hospital, several ambulatory clinics, Alberta precision labs, diagnostic labs and Dynalife.
Waves 2 and 3 were supposed to be in May but were delayed due to the pandemic.
Originally, the entire rollout was set to be done by fall 2022. Now, it’s been pushed back a year.
Williamson said Connect Care remains one of AHS’ highest priorities.
“Proceeding with Connect Care is critical to ensuring safe, quality patient care and has proven to be an asset to our urban sites in terms of how they have managed COVID. It has helped with patient flow and been a valuable tool for contact tracing as needed.”