With 7 COVID-19 outbreaks, Alberta hospital workers fight to keep system from being overwhelmed


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Outbreaks at seven major Alberta hospitals are putting pressure on a system that is already wrestling with a record number of COVID-19 patients.

There are currently outbreaks at two hospitals in Calgary and five in Edmonton. There are also two additional hospitals  in Calgary with units under watch.

As of Friday, 140 people across the province were being treated in hospital for COVID-19; 25 were in ICU beds. New numbers are expected on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think that despite the best efforts of front-line health-care workers and hospital administration, when you have such high levels of community transmission it becomes extremely difficult to prevent these outbreaks in the hospital,” said Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist.

“I’m extremely concerned.”

Asadi said she believes the level of transmission in the community needs to be controlled with additional restrictions to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

“I think we’re starting to lose the battle … you really, ideally, would be responding proactively. But sometimes the virus forces your hand.”

Asadi said hospitalizations are a lagging indicator of transmission, “so if you’re responding to increases in hospitalizations, you’re responding too late.”

Dr. Laurie-Ann Baker, an ER doctor and associate zone medical director with Alberta Health Services (AHS), said their biggest focus right now is on the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, which has four cases on three different units. One person has died. 

“We want to avoid hospitals and and the community becoming overwhelmed,” she said. 

Baker said currently, hospitalization numbers are close to what they were in May, but in May those numbers were trending down — now they’re trending up. 

She said the province’s health-care system is “prepared for the worst.”

Alberta has hit record new case numbers for more than a week. 

The province has set aside 80 adult ICU beds and 15 pediatric ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, as well as 477 adult critical care ventilators, 78 pediatric critical care ventilators and another 50 ventilators en route, Baker said. 

Here are details provided by AHS on the current hospital outbreaks: 

  • Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary has had 47 patients, 43 health-care workers and five visitors test positive. A total of 12 people have died. One unit is still on outbreak, but other units have resumed normal operation. 
  • Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary has three units under outbreak investigation. Four patients have tested positive, and one person has died. 
  • Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton has two units under outbreak investigation. A total of 14 patients and nine staff have tested positive. One person has died. 
  • University of Alberta hospital in Edmonton has three units under outbreak investigation. A total of eight patients and two staff have tested positive. 
  • Leduc Community Hospital in Leduc has an outbreak at one unit, where two patients have tested positive. 
  • Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton has had 16 patients, 14 staff and four deaths associated with its outbreak. 
  • Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton currently has three units under outbreak investigation. A total of seven patients and two staff have tested positive. 
  • And while not under outbreak, South Health Campus and Rockyview in Calgary each have one unit under watch. 

Read more at CBC.ca