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COVID-19 positivity rate for Alberta health-care workers sits at 5.5%

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: How COVID-19 is delaying diagnoses for other conditions' Health Matters: How COVID-19 is delaying diagnoses for other conditions
WATCH (Dec. 15, 2020): Officials have been warning patients not to put off seeing a doctor during the pandemic. But as one Edmonton woman found out, being allowed into a medical office can be complicated and not everything can be diagnosed over the phone — resulting in her ending up in the emergency room with a septic infection. Su-Ling Goh reports – Dec 15, 2020

Provincially, 74,538 health-care workers with Alberta Health Services, Alberta Precision Labs and Covenant Health have been tested for COVID-19.

Read more: People are dying of illnesses other than COVID-19 because they wait too long to seek help

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.

Read more: 1,205 Alberta health-care workers — 1% of workforce — have tested positive for COVID-19

To compare, the COVID-19 positivity of Alberta’s general population has fluctuated significantly.

Read more: Alberta’s new COVID-19 measures ban in-person dining, outdoor gatherings; retail to remain open

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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.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Alberta identifies 678 new cases of COVID-19, and 16 deaths Thursday' Coronavirus: Alberta identifies 678 new cases of COVID-19, and 16 deaths Thursday
Coronavirus: Alberta identifies 678 new cases of COVID-19, and 16 deaths Thursday – Jan 21, 2021

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.

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Read more: Edmonton doctors say new COVID-19 committee will provide ‘impartial, objective’ information

“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.”

Click to play video: 'Number of COVID-19 patients in Calgary ICUs hits all-time high' Number of COVID-19 patients in Calgary ICUs hits all-time high
Number of COVID-19 patients in Calgary ICUs hits all-time high – Jan 22, 2021

 

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But, patients should not put off medical care, MacIntyre stressed. The long-term health effects could be serious.

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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.”

Read more: Current COVID-19 restrictions in place ‘a little while longer’ as Alberta reaches 1,500 deaths

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.”

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

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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.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Edmonton zone activates surge capacity, non-urgent surgeries and outpatient care postponed' COVID-19: Edmonton zone activates surge capacity, non-urgent surgeries and outpatient care postponed
COVID-19: Edmonton zone activates surge capacity, non-urgent surgeries and outpatient care postponed – Oct 22, 2020

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.”

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 positivity rate declining but health system still under ‘severe strain’: Hinshaw

Still, MacIntyre said health-care worker morale is pretty low.

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“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:

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Cross Cancer Institute

  • 4 patients tested positive
  • 1 death

Read more: Pandemic worsened gaps in care, led to 30% fewer cancer diagnoses: Alberta doctor

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

READ MORE: ‘Collateral damage’: Wait times, cancellations hit health care outside of COVID-19

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

Villa Caritas

  • 1 active case in patient tested positive
  • 20 staff members tested positive
Click to play video: 'Visitation rules changing at some AHS facilities as Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths' Visitation rules changing at some AHS facilities as Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths
Visitation rules changing at some AHS facilities as Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths – Nov 25, 2020

 

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