1 additional death reported at Calgary hospital linked to COVID-19 outbreaks
CALGARY -- Another death reported Thursday is being linked to COVID-19 outbreaks at Foothills hospital in Calgary.
That brings the total number of deaths to five. A total of 35 patients and 29 staff members have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus connected to the outbreaks.
As of Sept. 29 — the most recent number available — there are 290 health-care workers in isolation.
"As part of our COVID-19 response, to date, AHS has postponed 45 of 260 scheduled surgeries due to staff restrictions onsite, and the reduced number of available inpatient beds due to the COVID-19 outbreak," officials said in a release.
"These surgeries are being rescheduled as quickly as possible, with many already rescheduled and the remainder to be rescheduled as soon as possible."
Visitation at Foothills hospital remains restricted to end of life situations or pre-approved essential visitors only.
"We know this is difficult for everyone and we will do all we can to keep these additional restrictions in place for as short a time as possible," health officials said in a release.
"Emergency surgeries are continuing and the (Foothills Medical Centre Emergency Department) remains open. All other services usually offered at the Foothills Medical Centre remain in place and we are working hard to ensure the availability of specialized and staff physicians to continue to provide these services."
Unions representing many of the employees inside say they’re concerned the numbers will only keep climbing.
“I expect it to get worse before it gets better,” said Kevin Champagne with United Nurses Association. “I have fear and trepidation of, will the system be able to sustain for the nurses that are at the frontline?”
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees echoed those concerns.
Both organizations say the health professionals inside are not properly being compensated for their work — or for their time spent isolating because of the outbreak.
Bobby-Joe Borodey told CTV News the spread has led to a critical staffing crunch.
“The common thread is (the workers) are scared,” she said. “Not just a little bit worried, they’re terrified. They wonder at the end of their shift if they are leaving with COVID and potentially taking it back home to their loved ones.”
Both unions say they want to see the province step in with additional resources.
Borodey believes that aside from extra staff, screening is a top need to limit the spread.
“We want to see tighter measures put in place to make sure no one gets through,” she said. “Because those shifts still need to be filled. There will come a point in time where there won’t be enough staff.”
Contract tracing work also continues with workers and patients on affected units being tested twice daily.
Alberta Health Services has also launched a website with information on the Foothills outbreaks.