Provincially, 74,538 health-care workers with Alberta Health Services, Alberta Precision Labs and Covenant Health have been tested for COVID-19.
Of those, 4,127 positive tests were identified, meaning the overall positivity rate is 5.5 per cent, AHS said.
As of Nov. 13, just one per cent of Alberta health-care workers had tested positive for COVID-19.
To compare, the COVID-19 positivity of Alberta’s general population has fluctuated significantly.
On Oct. 8, it was 1.3 per cent. On Dec. 8, when further restrictions were announced, it was 9.4 per cent.
On Thursday, the province confirmed 678 new cases out of 14,060 tests, and 16 new deaths, putting Alberta’s positivity rate at 4.8 per cent.
Some Albertans are avoiding seeking medical treatment because they’re afraid a hospital is a COVID-19 hotspot, Dr. Erika MacIntyre said Friday.
“There has been in-hospital transmission. It is a real and valid concern on behalf of patients but you need to find that balance,” said MacIntyre, who is an intensivist respirologist and president of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (EZMSA).
“If patients need care, then they need to go to the facility or the provider that is going to give that care.
“The bottom line is each hospital has their area of expertise. You’re still going to want to go to the hospital that is best for you, regardless of their outbreak status.”
MacIntyre knows certain hospitals and even health-care workers themselves have been stigmatized or perceived in a negative light due to COVID-19 outbreaks. She thinks the stigma was worse earlier in the pandemic.
“The biggest thing that’s going to have an impact on in-hospital transmission is the community transmission.”
But, patients should not put off medical care, MacIntyre stressed. The long-term health effects could be serious.
For instance, in the case of a bowel obstruction, “if you present early, it might mean you come in, you’re awake, you’re alert, you go for your surgery, and you’re home in under a week with few to no complications.
“However, some people, if they chose to delay, could end up with things like kidney failure, breathing failure, pneumonia. And instead of that uncomplicated hospital admission that would have been less than a week, now we’re looking at an ICU stay, a prolonged admission, greater use of health resources and worse outcome for people… in some cases, death.
“If you need medical attention, you need to either go to your doctor or go a hospital,” MacIntyre said. “Don’t delay. Know that the health-care system is still there for patients.”
There were 726 people in hospital as of Thursday, 119 of whom were in the ICU.
“While hospitalization numbers have decreased from the late December peak, they still remain high,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson told Global News. “We must continue to ensure our health-care system has adequate capacity for patients that need care.”
He added there are no immediate plans to close any of the additional surge capacity beds added during the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
An additional 65 critical care spaces were opened in the Edmonton zone and the Calgary zone added 30 more.
MacIntyre said the public health measures seem to be working.
“It’s getting better in hospitals,” she said, encouraging people to keep following the restrictions.
“That will help the hospital the most.”
Still, MacIntyre said health-care worker morale is pretty low.
“It’s unfortunate. Most of us absolutely love our job and right now we don’t.”
While news of the vaccine rollout in December offered some hope and cause for optimism, she said the delays and uncertainty are upsetting.
And, just like every other Albertan, the restrictions — especially not being able to see loved ones in person — are taking their toll.
“Some people think that we want the lockdowns because it makes our job easier,” MacIntyre said. “We’re just as much impacted by the lockdowns as everyone else is. We need our friends, we needed our kids’ hockey, our gyms.”
As of Jan. 20, there were COVID-19 outbreaks at 26 AHS and Covenant Health acute care facilities.
In the Edmonton zone, those outbreaks and their related case numbers are:
Cross Cancer Institute
- 4 patients tested positive
- 1 death
Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital
- 5 patients tested positive
- 2 deaths
Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital
- 13 patients tested positive
Grey Nuns Community Hospital
- No active cases in patients
- 5 active cases in health-care workers
- 22 deaths
Misericordia Community Hospital
- No active cases in patients
- 16 health-care workers tested positive
- 5 deaths
Leduc Community Hospital
- 3 patients tested positive
Royal Alexandra Hospital
- 47 patients tested positive
- 110 health-care workers tested positive
- 12 deaths
Sturgeon Community Hospital
- 16 patients tested positive
- 10 health-care workers tested positive
University of Alberta Hospital
- 22 patients tested positive
- 26 health-care workers tested positive
- 1 active case in patient tested positive
- 20 staff members tested positive