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Alberta doctors call for more COVID-19 pandemic transparency

Click to play video: 'Alberta doctors call for more pandemic transparency' Alberta doctors call for more pandemic transparency
Alberta's top physician, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says she doesn't have details on the expansion of hospital capacity due to the 5th wave of COVID-19, but doctors on the frontline want the info. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports. – Jan 19, 2022

Those who have spent more than two years on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta say getting information from the province is harder than ever.

On Monday, Alberta Health Services president Dr. Verna Yiu penned an op-ed in the Edmonton Journal.

“…we’re adjusting our contingency plans to add hundreds more spaces in addition to ICU,” Yiu admitted in the piece.

Global News requested multiple interviews with Yiu to get details but she was not made available.

On Tuesday, Global News asked chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw how many spaces were being added, where and who would staff them.

“I don’t have details about Alberta Health Services’ acute care planning,” Alberta’s top doctor responded.

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She gave the same answer when asked if surgeries would have to be cancelled.

“It’s clear that the system is in trouble, and for whatever reason, the government and/or AHS doesn’t want to communicate that to the people, the public,” Calgary emergency room doctor and outspoken critic Joe Vipond said.

Read more: Alberta hospitals under ‘serious pressure’ from 5th COVID-19 wave: Hinshaw

Alberta neared a record high number of hospitalizations Wednesday.

Vipond said Alberta narrowly avoided having to go to triage protocol during the fourth wave but he doesn’t know if the same can be said for the current fifth wave.

He said Albertans need information on how the province ended up in the fifth wave.

“I do think we need to have Dr. Yiu front and centre answering questions, and I think we also need to have our politicians — (Health Minister) Mr. (Jason) Copping (and) Premier (Jason) Kenney — answering why they’ve allowed this to occur.”

The province admits current case numbers are inaccurate as most Albertans cannot get a PCR test.

Unlike during the first four waves, most outbreaks are no longer being tracked or posted.

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Edmonton lab to offer at-home PCR testing as Alberta Health continues to limit access – Jan 16, 2022

And Vipond pointed out messaging is mixed between federal officials and provincial officials.

While the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and chief public health officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam are recommending the use of N95 masks, Alberta has not done the same.

“I think Albertans deserve to be able to have the information to protect themselves from a potentially deadly virus,” said Vipond.

Read more: N95 masks, rapid tests, still hard to come by in Edmonton

Edmonton doctor Neeja Bakshi has been working on the COVID-19 ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

She gained attention this week after posting a photo of herself on social media after a long shift in the hospital.

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Bakshi urged others to do the same using the hashtag #RunningOnEmpty. Hundreds responded.

“In the face of not getting transparent information from our government, and that’s the other piece of this, so those of us who are in it have to speak up,” she explained.

The front-line workers said they would like to get information on how capacity is being expanded, when, where and who will staff the extra beds.

Without it, they said morale will only continue to plummet.

“I think it’s a very difficult time for us as health-care workers to see that lack of leadership and to understand what the end game is here with the long-term plans,” stated Vipond.

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Global News asked AHS for an interview or to provide details Wednesday.

Both were denied with a spokesperson saying “we hope to be able to address this stuff tomorrow.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta reaches highest-ever active cases of COVID-19 as rapid tests still scarce' Alberta reaches highest-ever active cases of COVID-19 as rapid tests still scarce
Alberta reaches highest-ever active cases of COVID-19 as rapid tests still scarce – Jan 13, 2022

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