British Columbia does not currently have the capacity to help relieve the strain on Alberta’s COVID-19-beleaguered hospital system, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.
“The Ministry of Health met with our Alberta counterparts today. Given the current demands on B.C.’s healthcare system, we will not be able to assist with taking patients at this time,” Dix said in a statement.
“However, we have told Alberta that if there are things we can do to support them, we will. And if we can take patients on in the future, we will.”
On Wednesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency as he said the province could run short of intensive-care beds and staff within 10 days.
At the same briefing, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services Dr. Verna Yiu said the province was looking to its neighbours for potential ICU space or skilled staff who could go to Alberta to help.
The province is grappling with a record-high 270 COVID-19 patients in ICU, and has been forced to cancel hundreds of surgeries due to the pressure on hospitals from mostly unvaccinated patients.
Officials said Thursday they were seeing 18 to 20 new ICU admissions daily.
“That is taking into account the additional 132 surge spaces that we have opened to meet demand. Without those spaces, we would be at 156 per cent of our normal capacity,” Yiu said Wednesday.
“There would not be enough ICU beds for those that need them.”
Ontario has offered to help Alberta with its COVID-19 patients.
British Columbia has seen its own COVID-19 hospitalizations climb steadily since early August, and doctors have warned of growing strain and staff shortages.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs as of Thursday stood at 134, up from just 16 at the end of July but still below the high of 178 set in April.
Of those patients, 117 were unvaccinated.
The province has an overall total of 510 ICU beds, 444 of which were occupied by patients.
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