CALGARY -- Alberta Health Services has extended an offer to accept up to 10 intensive care patients from Manitoba to help ease the burden as that province nears the expected peak of its third wave of the pandemic.

AHS officials say Alberta currently has sufficient intensive care unit capacity to welcome additional patients into hospitals in Edmonton or Calgary.  

"Alberta is proud to support our fellow Canadians during this time of need," said Health Minister Tyler Shandro in a statement issued Wednesday. "With our hospitalizations falling in line with the recent trend in cases, we have available capacity to help our neighbours.

"The staff and physicians in our hospitals and across our health system have worked hard to meet the needs of patients throughout the pandemic. I know they are tired, but I also know how deeply committed they are to caring for patients, and I know they will come through again."

Discussions are currently underway to formulate a timeline for the westward transfer of patients in need of critical care.

Once a patient's condition stabilizes, they will return to Manitoba to continue their recovery.

Dr. Verna Yiu, Alberta Health Services president and CEO, says Alberta is fortunate to have strong critical care teams and, while the care of Albertans is always a priority, the teams will do their best to care for the patients from Manitoba.  

"We have a long tradition of working with our neighbours to share expertise, resources and learnings, and we stand alongside Manitoba as they deal with this pandemic and its impact on patient care," said Yiu. "I am so grateful and appreciative of our teams, and I thank them for all their efforts."

Manitoba's third wave is expected to reach its crescendo next week.

As of Wednesday, 438 patients are currently in Alberta hospitals as a result of COVID-19 including 127 in intensive care.

There were 187 COVID-19 patients in Alberta ICUs in mid-May, the most the province had seen during the pandemic.