'Calm before the storm': Alberta hospitals prep for the worst
CALGARY -- New health measures put in place in Alberta have prepared hospitals and other care centres for COVID-19, but some are worried it still won’t be enough.
The province’s top doctor announced the changes Wednesday, telling reporters there could be more on the way if things get worse.
“Alberta Health Services is moving to further restrict visitors to hospitals and care centres,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. “And if at some point if we feel like we need to move towards further restrictions, we would do so.”
Starting immediately, all visitors will need to be completely symptom-free and only one visitor per-patient will be allowed at a time. Children will also be restricted from visiting, barring special circumstances.
All non-urgent surgeries are also being rescheduled to free up staff and reduce capacity inside hospitals.
“I think there’s a sense this is the calm before the storm in terms of what’s likely to unfold over the next few weeks,” Heather Smith with the United Nurses of Alberta said. “It’’s going to take a lot of teamwork dealing with what is undoubtedly going to be an incredible stress on the entire health care system in our province.”
Thus far, Alberta’s response numbers from the outbreak have been world-class.
The region sits third in the world for testing per capita, administering more than 300 tests per 100,000 people.
Equipment in our province is also stockpiled more than in other jurisdictions. Alberta hospitals will soon have almost 600 adult ventilators and 78 pediatric ventilators, according to a spokesperson with AHS.
The spokesperson says that the province received 70 new critical care ventilators in the past month and a half, and will receive 50 more by early April.
As of now, only two patients are in intensive care, but officials expect that number to skyrocket.
If and when it does, sources tell CTV News the province is ready for temporary facilities to ease the pressure on hospitals. That could include making Calgary’s Children’s Hospital a hub for adult patients — something Dr. Hinshaw said is not off the table.
So, as the province watches, nurses and doctors prepare for the worst — and hope for the best.
“Certainly in areas there’s a lot of fear — particularly in critical care and the emergency department in terms of their own exposure,” Smith said.
“It’s very chilling.”