'Massive disconnect': Doctors say Kenney misrepresenting Alberta's hospital situation
A number of Alberta physicians say Premier Jason Kenney's comments on Thursday about the provincial hospitalization situation doesn't accurately represent what's happening in ERs.
They believe Kenney incorrectly normalized the state of emergency care in his COVID-19 availability.
"There is significant stress but it is not out of line with historic trends at this time of the year," Kenney said at the time.
"We've been averaging just under 5,300 total non-ICU inpatients since the beginning of January. In 2018, in January, we peaked at 5,600."
Doctors argue those numbers don't tell the whole story.
"He's a politician and not a health-care professional, so there may not be the full understanding of how capacity works," Dr. Neeja Bakshi told CTV News from Edmonton.
"The acute care capacity, so the non-ICU ward space, is the worst we've seen the entire pandemic. And anytime one area is crunched, the whole system will fall apart, because we're all one big cycle."
Medicine Hat physician Dr. Paul Parks called it a "a massive disconnect for health-care workers when we come in to work every day on the front lines and we're drowning in our big emergency departments and on our wards in the hospitals."
"And the government's messaging to the public is that there's nothing to worry about and everything's fine," he said.
"That disconnect is just demoralizing for patients and for healthcare workers."
The premier seemed to backtrack somewhat during Thursday's press conference when he acknowledged the hospital situation was still too volatile to lessen restrictions.
"We're at, in fact, the highest point in the two years in terms of people in the hospital with COVID," Kenney said. "We see particular stress in some of the large urban emergency wards."
Parks believes Kenney's comparisons are unfair.
"Surge capacity is meaningless if you take every single hospital bed in the province and say, 'we're doing fine, the water level is only neck-high.' It's knee-high in a couple hospitals, and it's way over our heads in most of the big hospitals," he said.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw added severe outcomes have taxed health-care professionals.
"The burden of disease that Omicron has caused is straining the capacity of the system," she said.
That system is one that added a field hospital in Edmonton this week to keep up with increased demand.
Doctors say keeping staffing levels up-to-par has been "almost impossible" so far in 2022 and there aren't enough rooms to treat and isolate all the patients who are admitted.
"I don't know what he's saying, and I'm not sure he knows what he saying," Parks said. "It's very dangerous to give the public the idea that the pandemic is over and the hospitals are fine, when they are not."
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