Alberta Reports Over 2,000 COVID-19 Cases As Doctors Talk About Triage

Pressure on Alberta’s hospital system continues to rise, with 911 Albertans hospitalized with novel coronavirus on Friday marking all-time record

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The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta reached new highs on Friday, as the province reported 2,020 new cases of the virus.

This is the first time since May 10 that Alberta has reported more than 2,000 daily cases. The infections came from around 17,300 tests, which represents a positivity rate of 11.7%.

Doctors from the independent group Protect Our Province sounded the alarm bells on health care capacity during a press briefing on Friday afternoon as pressure on Alberta’s hospital system continues to mount.


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911 Albertans were hospitalized with the novel coronavirus on Friday, setting an all-time high, along with 215 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in Alberta, up from 222 the day before.

Internal modeling of Alberta’s health services indicates the province could run out of critical care capacity by September 29. Dr Neeja Bakshi said there are real concerns that Alberta could activate its intensive care triage framework, which would dictate who will receive treatment if there are not sufficient resources available. .

“I would like to recognize how morally distressing and devastating it is to bring up the idea of ​​ICU triage in everyday discussions,” Bakshi, doctor of internal medicine at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, said during the briefing. POP.


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“We are doing everything humanly possible to avoid activating this protocol.”

Bakshi explained that COVID-19 vaccination status is not part of the triage protocol and there are no plans to add it to the equation. She said the protocol creates an objective process in which health workers allocate resources when needed. Doctors treat anyone who presents with an illness, Bakshi said.

“No one benefits when a doctor makes instant moral judgment on a patient,” she said.

In total, intensive care units in Alberta treat 260 patients. The province continues to add extra beds in anticipation of a further increase in the number of patients requiring care. The province now has 322 intensive care beds, which means capacity sits at 81 percent – but without those extra extra beds, intensive care would be at 150 percent of capacity.


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Critical care capacity crunch is caused by unvaccinated Albertans. Of the 215 COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care units in Alberta, only seven percent are fully immunized.

Alberta is seeking help from other provinces to avoid activating its triage protocol. It calls for a skilled workforce who can come and work in intensive care units in Alberta, as well as intensive care spaces to which patients can be transferred.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Friday her province would support Alberta and officials were discussing what that aid might look like. British Columbia and Saskatchewan said Thursday they lacked the capacity to help Alberta.

  1. A healthcare worker performs a COVID-19 test at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Center on Friday, September 17, 2021.

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  3. A masked pedestrian walks past a sign outside Knox United Church in downtown Calgary encouraging people to get vaccinated on Friday, September 17, 2021.

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Edmonton intensivist Dr. Brian Buchanan takes care of transporting critically ill patients as part of his job. He said transporting patients thousands of miles is a significant challenge, especially for those whose health can fluctuate significantly during transport.


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“It is certainly difficult to transport people with these considerations, but there really is no family that wants their loved ones to be separated from them geographically. It’s hard on families, it’s hard on patients, it’s hard for health workers to make these decisions, ”Buchanan said during the POP briefing.

Long distances require both land and air transportation and are labor intensive, Buchanan said. Those resources are already exhausted, he said, and suggested military aid might be more feasible to help transport patients.

Alberta is creating intensive care spaces in part by postponing surgeries. AHS CEO Dr Verna Yiu said on Thursday the province was canceling all elective surgeries to free up beds and staff for intensive care.


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Eric Mulder joined the POP show to share his experience with surgery postponements. The 31-year-old Sherwood Park man was due to have surgery to treat his brain tumor, but received a call informing him that it had been canceled less than 24 hours earlier. The next evening, he suffered a serious attack which sent him to the hospital.

“Unfortunately, due to the current situation, it took me several hours before I could even get an emergency bed,” Mulder said. He said receiving the phone call saying his urgent operation would be moved caused immense stress.

Elsewhere on Friday, Alberta also reported the deaths of 18 other people from the virus, including one in their 40s. Throughout the pandemic, 2,523 Albertans have died from COVID-19.

There are now 19,201 active cases of the coronavirus in Alberta. The Alberta Health Services North area has 3,237 active cases, the highest per capita rate in the province.

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Twitter: @jasonfherring



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