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AHS redeploys dozens of staff to help with surge in respiratory infections at children's hospital

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Facing an intensive care unit operating close to – and sometimes above – capacity, Alberta Children's Hospital has been forced to redeploy 65 staff from a mix of units.

Alberta Children's Hospital head Marg Fullerton says the staff came from respite care at Rotary Flames House, as well as some outpatient clinics and even from corporate positions.

"We are sustained at a high level of overcapacity at this time," Fullerton said during a question-and-answer session with reporters late Monday afternoon.

"We have great sympathy for those families that we have had to postpone. But as soon as this respiratory surge eases, we will be rebooking those patients as quickly as possible," Fullerton said.

She says another 10 nurses are starting at ACH this January and the hospital will add a total of 12 short-stay beds by this Wednesday, including the staff to make them function.

So far this fall, 205 kids under the age of 10 have been admitted to hospital with influenza.

Twenty have been admitted to ICU and two have died.

Those numbers do not include other common and often serious infections such as RSV and COVID-19.

Fullerton also says there has been no request for assistance from the Red Cross, and that the system for now can hold up with existing staff.

She says people can help the hospital by staying home when sick, washing hands regularly, wearing a mask in crowds and by getting this year's flu shot.

Just 22 per cent of Albertans have received their seasonal flu shot, using up just over half of the province's supply of 1.9 million doses.

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