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Alberta to send adults to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s ICU as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge

Click to play video 'Alberta to send adults to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s ICU as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge' Alberta to send adults to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s ICU as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge
WATCH ABOVE: Adults will soon be sent to Edmonton’s Stollery Children's Hospital's ICU as the demand for care spaces increases in the province. Alberta Health Services said it means children will need to be moved and, in some cases, may no longer have private rooms. But as Chris Chacon reports, while the move may be a shock, it's been in the works since the spring – Dec 19, 2020

As Alberta’s health-care system continues to struggle with demands placed on it by a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases this fall, health officials say the situation will now see pediatric intensive care unit patients at Edmonton’s children hospital moved to accommodate critically ill adults.

In an email to Global News on Friday night, Alberta Health Services said children at the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) will be moved to the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (PCICU) but “will receive the same high quality care with the same care team.”

“As community cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the Edmonton zone, we are seeing the corresponding increase in hospitalizations and ICU admission rates,” AHS said. “To respond to these challenges, we are implementing surge capacity measures in Edmonton zone to ensure we are able to provide care to those who most need it.”

AHS said in Edmonton, the initial action taken by health authorities was to “maximize existing capacity and limit admissions by temporarily rescheduling surgeries where post-operative care in the ICU might be required.”

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READ MORE: Alberta health minister says field hospital at Edmonton’s Butterdome to be used as a last resort 

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“The next phase involves accommodating critical care patients in reassigned clinical areas, such as post-operative recovery rooms, and utilizing existing critical care space in new ways,” the health authority said. “This is the case with the Stollery’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), which will be used to treat critically ill adults.”

According to AHS, the changes at the children’s hospital mean patients in the PCICU “may no longer have private rooms,” meaning that only a single “essential visitor” will be able to be with a child at any one time. AHS said if rooms are used for two patients, there may not be a bed available for parents who want to stay with their child overnight.

“We acknowledge that this will be extremely difficult for some families, and we are truly sorry for the impact this decision may have,” AHS said. “We will do all we can to accommodate one patient per room.

“For special circumstances, there are four sleeper chairs available on the unit for families to share on an as-needed basis. Our PICU and PCICU teams will work with families to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

READ MORE: Hinshaw calls death of woman in her 20s a ‘tragic reminder’ of risk COVID-19 poses 

AHS noted that some pediatric cardiac surgeries are being postponed but “all urgent and emergent pediatric surgeries are proceeding.”

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“In these extraordinary times, AHS has had to make significant changes to the way we deliver health care, however, anyone needing urgent, emergency health care will continue to receive it,” the health authority said.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about the health-care system’s capacity in Alberta during the COVID-19 pandemic.