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Emergency measures considered as Alberta Children's Hospital struggles to keep up with patients

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is eyeing emergency provisions to deal with a surge of patients inside the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Those measures would help redeploy resources and bring more staffing hours to the hospital, which is experiencing long wait times and a rush of new patients.

AHS met with health unions this week to discuss the move.

A statement says the "measures are taken only as a last but necessary step to ensure we can continue to provide quality care to our patients." They'd help redeploy resources and could force mandatory overtime and cut staff vacation hours.

It could become necessary as thousands of Albertan children fight COVID-19, RSV and influenza.

Recent reports say ER wait times at the hospital have been as high as 18 hours this month.

"What it means for Alberta's most vulnerable and sick is that when they go to seek health care, unfortunately, there may not be the resources," said Bobby-Joe Borodey with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. "You're going to see wait times up, you're going to see staff that are ill and not being able to come into work because they are stressed and they are getting sick."

The Alberta Children's Hospital has seen a recent increase in its daily emergency visits of 20 to 30 per cent.

On Friday, that facility and the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton were both at or above 100 per cent inpatient capacity.


AHS says a fast-track area has been activated inside the hospital.

It'll aim to expedite treatment for patients with less serious conditions, which could get more kids in and out the door.

It could also free up staff to see to those who are critically sick or injured.

The hospital will eventually receive other changes to help, though firm dates for their implementation have yet to be set.

They include a new six-bed, 24-hour-a-day observation unit and discharge areas in the inpatient units.


Alberta's new Premier wants to reform the entire system and has identified EMS and ER wait times as priorities.

Danielle Smith fired the AHS board earlier this month and brought in Dr. John Cowell as official administrator. She's confident he can accelerate system changes.

The opposition isn't optimistic.

"We are seeing pressures across most jurisdictions in Canada, but here in Alberta, it has been made so much worse by decisions of this government," NDP Health Critic David Shepherd told CTV News. "They repeatedly chose to act last and act least. So certainly, there are systematic problems, but they have been made far worse and are going to take some time to turn around."

The NDP wants to see more emphasis put on the province's relationship with workers. Shepherd says without steady leadership, the wait time issues could only get worse as staff leave the province or decide to take jobs elsewhere.

The Health Minister was not available for an interview. Top Stories

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