Alberta Health Services has added a heated trailer which will operate as an additional waiting area to help ease the stress of patient influx at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
As the number of respiratory illnesses in Alberta’s youth continue to climb, so does the strain on the health-care system.
AHS said there’s been an increase of 20 to 30 per cent in daily visits to its emergency department. On Nov. 25, both the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and Edmonton’s Stollery “were at or above 100 per cent inpatient capacity.”
Due to the increased volume of patients, AHS said the “fast-track area” has been activated to expedite treatment for emergency department patients with less serious conditions. Care areas are also being opened and staffed whenever possible to help deal with the surge.
“ACH has added additional waiting area space to be utilized during periods when the hospital’s emergency department is at capacity,” said Kerry Williamson, an AHS spokesperson in a statement to Global News on Saturday.
“A heated trailer will be located beside the emergency department to provide additional sheltered waiting space when required.
“This additional space is a comfort measure to help with crowding and weather conditions and will not be used as a primary treatment area.”
This added space is expected to be operational in early December.
“The hospitals are able to accommodate patients over 100 per cent of normal capacity at peak times,” Williamson noted. “Our care teams are doing all they can to see and treat patients as efficiently as possible during this time.”
NDP health critic David Shepherd said more staff is really what’s needed to address the situation.
“This is extremely troubling,” he said. “We have seen families waiting in long lineups, and it’s good they will have someplace to stay that’s warm, but Albertans don’t want another waiting room before the waiting room.”
The lack of staff is something the province has said it’s working on and officials with the children’s hospital said once staffing plans are finalized, they can put some other initiatives in place.
Those initiatives include opening a six-bed observation unit for short-stay patients — generally 24 hours or less — and opening additional inpatient pediatric beds at the Peter Lougheed Centre.