Alberta health departments postpone elective surgeries as COVID-19 cases rise


Alberta Health Services is postponing scheduled surgeries across the province to build capacity in intensive care units as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase.

“When I spoke to the media earlier this week, I said the pressure on our health care system was increasing,” Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO, said Friday at a joint press conference by high level with Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta.

“Today we are taking additional steps to relieve some of this pressure.”

It is estimated that up to 60% of surgeries will be postponed in the North area next week, while up to 50% of surgeries or procedures could be delayed in the Edmonton area, an AHS press release said. .

The central, Calgary and southern areas will see about 30 percent of their surgeries, procedures or outpatients affected. In addition, the endoscopy procedures planned in these three areas will be postponed by 30 to 40%.

All patients whose surgery is postponed will be contacted directly by AHS. Urgent and emerging procedures, as well as priority cancer surgeries, will continue to take place.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly and we recognize that postponing surgeries and procedures has a very profound impact on affected patients, families and loved ones,” Yiu said.

“But it is imperative that we maintain the capacity of our hospitals, not only for patients with COVID 19, but for all Albertans who need intensive care and care. “

The postponements are intended to create space in hospitals for patients who need a higher standard of care and to allow resources to be sent to areas that need them most, the statement said.

As of Thursday, 487 people hospitalized were being treated for COVID-19, including 114 patients in intensive care.

Alberta’s intensive care units are at 95% of capacity, Yiu said.

AHS is asking all part-time and casual staff to take additional shifts if available, as staff have become “the critical issue” in the fourth wave of the pandemic, the press release added.

At Friday’s press conference, Kenney blamed the postponements on eligible Albertans who do not get the COVID-19 vaccine, and the severe consequences suffered by people who did not receive two doses of the vaccine after contracting the delta variant.

“Your personal choice has very real social consequences,” Kenney said.

Earlier this week, AHS announced it would require its employees and contract healthcare workers to be fully immunized by the end of October.

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