A nurse working in an Alberta intensive care unit has died as health-care workers continue to try to stay afloat amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.
“Today we are saddened by the death of one of our nurses who worked in the ICU and emergency departments,” Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said Thursday.
Yiu did not release any information about how the nurse died, where they worked or their age for confidentiality reasons. She said the health authority’s thoughts and condolences were with the nurse’s family, loved ones and colleagues.
“Our front line physicians and nurses are under extreme stress and pressure. The pandemic is impacting individuals and our teams, both physically and mentally. Our people have been working tirelessly to care for Albertans throughout this long and exhausting pandemic.
“We understand and acknowledge the strain they’re under, as well as the impact that this is having on their families and loved ones,” she said.
“AHS is taking all the steps necessary to ensure that we continue to support our frontline health-care teams. If anyone at AHS in Alberta is struggling, we are asking you to reach out for help. We are here for you, and you are not alone.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney admitted Thursday that the addition of 200 additional ICU spaces in the province’s hospitals to accommodate COVID-19 patients has come at a “real cost.”
“Both in terms of the huge stress on our amazing front-line health professionals, but also due to postponements of surgeries and other medical procedures.”
There were 247 people in ICU on Thursday, Kenney said, which was down from 257 the day before. However, Yiu said 27 COVID-19 patients needed to be admitted to ICUs on Wednesday — one of the highest daily admissions this month.
Kenney also said that a team of eight to 10 ICU-trained military medics are headed to Alberta from the Canadian Armed Forces, allowing up to two additonal beds to be opened up. Those military staff will be helping at Edmonton-area hospitals.
Roughly 20 people will be coming to Alberta from the Canadian Red Cross, some of which are ICU-trained, which will be deployed to help alleviate the “severe stress” the Red Deer Regional Hospital is under due to the low vaccination rate in rural central Alberta, Kenney said.
The province is also welcoming medical staff from Newfoundland and Labrador, after Kenney initially said no to his counterpart Premier Andrew Furey’s offer of help. Those five to six ICU-trained staff will be heading to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray.
“I know that Alberta health-care workers will be grateful for the helping hand, and all Albertans are thankful for any assistance at this challenging time,” he said.
AHS confirmed Friday the nurse who died was Season Clark, who worked in Calgary.