Up to 70% of Edmonton zone surgeries to be postponed due to ‘COVID-19 activity’: AHS

Click to play video: 'Doctors warn of potential health care system collapse in Alberta'
Doctors warn of potential health care system collapse in Alberta
Anger is growing among Alberta's doctors, as unvaccinated COVID-19 patients continue to overwhelm hospitals and their ICUs. As Heather Yourex-West explains, they want the province to implement more COVID-19 restrictions, before the fourth wave pushes the health care system past the brink. – Sep 10, 2021

In an effort to create “sufficient ICU and inpatient capacity” to manage COVID-19 activity across the Edmonton zone, additional elective surgeries and outpatient procedures are being rescheduled.

On Sept. 3, up to 50 per cent of scheduled surgeries were postponed in the zone.

Now, access to surgery will be decreased by up to 70 per cent, including postponing all day surgeries and providing only priority cancer, urgent and emergent surgeries, Alberta Health Services said.

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In a series of tweets on Monday morning, the health authority said the rescheduling would begin immediately and patients who are impacted will be contacted and their surgeries will be rescheduled “as soon as possible.”

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“We do not make these decisions lightly, and we acknowledge that postponing surgeries has a significant impact on patients, their families, and their loved ones,” an AHS spokesperson said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Albertans face cancelled surgeries due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations'
Albertans face cancelled surgeries due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

The reductions allow AHS to free up space for patients requiring inpatient care and critical care supports, while also allowing front-line staff to be deployed to the areas of greatest need.

The move Monday in the Edmonton area came after AHS last week postponed “all scheduled elective surgeries and many outpatient procedures for the remainder of (the) week” at Calgary hospitals.

Read more: All scheduled elective surgeries, many outpatient procedures in Calgary suspended: AHS

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The Edmonton zone now has a total of 126 critical care beds. On Sunday at 1 p.m., 111 of those 126 ICU beds were filled. As of Monday, AHS said there were 82 patients with COVID-19 in the ICU in Edmonton-area hospitals.

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“This situation continues to be very serious, and we would like to remind all Albertans that we need their help in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, which in turn will reduce strain on the healthcare system,” AHS said.

“We strongly urge all eligible Albertans to get immunized as quickly as possible, which is your best defence against a severe outcome from COVID-19.”

Alberta Health does not issue COVID-19 data over the weekend — updated numbers are expected Monday.

According to Friday’s update, there were 686 people in hospital with COVID-19 across Alberta and 169 of those people were in the ICU.

The news of rescheduled surgeries came on the same day anti-vaccination protests are planned outside hospitals across Canada, including at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.

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Read more: Warnings issued ahead of expected protests at hospitals across Canada

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An organization calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses posted notices of “silent vigils” expected to take place in all 10 provinces, saying they’re meant to critique public health measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The majority of COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, health officials have said for weeks.

Click to play video: 'What will happen as more COVID-19 patients fill Alberta ICUs?'
What will happen as more COVID-19 patients fill Alberta ICUs?

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