COVID-19 patients who show up to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and require “a higher level of care” are being sent to Edmonton and Calgary as the hospital is “currently facing capacity issues,” according to Alberta Health Services.
In a statement to Global News, the health authority did not provide further details about how many patients have been diverted and how they are being transported.
Red Deer is located in AHS’ Central zone, a region whose health-care capacity is being stretched particularly thin.
“In the Central zone, we currently have 26 ICU beds, including 14 additional spaces,” Gregory Harris, a senior communications adviser with AHS, told Global News on Friday night.
“Central zone ICU is operating at more than 100 per cent of current capacity.”
Just last week, Premier Jason Kenney revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had stretched the province’s health-care capacity to such a degree, that the possibility of the system collapsing within days was a very real one.
“We may run out of staff and intensive care beds within the next 10 days,” the premier said on Sept. 15, the same day the province declared a state of public health emergency and announced its intention of introducing a vaccine passport system, an initiative that took effect on Monday.
Since then, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions has continued to climb. The federal government has offered its assistance and on Friday, an Alberta government spokesperson confirmed the province was working with federal counterparts to address the challenges.
“Alberta’s government is working with our federal counterparts to do what is necessary to support our health system and prevent it from being overwhelmed,” said Greg Smith, press secretary for Municipal Affair Minister Ric McIver.
“It’s important to note that this is a contingency plan and details are still being analyzed.”
Smith said the government is looking to Ottawa for possible support in the form of “aero-medical evacuation capability” and help augmenting AHS’ “critical care staff levels, specifically intensive-care unit registered nurses and respiratory therapists.”
“Currently, there is no immediate requirement for the Canadian Armed Forces to support us,” Smith added. “Staging the Canadian Armed Forces and nursing staff into Alberta has not been formally requested.
“If this situation changes, as much advance notice as possible will be given, because the dispatch of those personnel will require time to co-ordinate and complete.”
Watch below: Some recent Global News videos about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.