Alberta Health Services confirmed it is taking extra measures to deal with a space crunch at Red Deer hospital, caused by the pandemic. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Alberta Health Services confirmed it is taking extra measures to deal with a space crunch at Red Deer hospital, caused by the pandemic. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

AHS confirms special measures are needed to deal with space crunch at Red Deer hospital

‘We are experiencing challenges’

Alberta Health Services says 38 COVID-19 positive patients are currently being cared for at Red Deer hospital — including 15 in ICU.

Four wards at Red Deer hospital are now on “COVID-19 outbreak,” while two more are under “COVID watch.” This means that new patients cannot be easily be admitted because of safety concerns, AHS said in a statement, in response to concerns expressed by three doctors at Red Deer hospital about unprecedented stress and a bed crunch at the facility.

However, Alberta Health Services stated its staff are working closely with Alberta’s medical officer of health, Workplace Health and Safety, and Infection Prevention and Control on health protocols to be able to admit non-COVID-19 patients to units on a “watch” or “outbreak” in a safe manner.

Related: Doctors air concerns about Red Deer hospital

Alberta Health Services confirmed there’s a space crunch at the hospital: “We are experiencing challenges in admitting patients from the Emergency Department, as well as ensuring there is space available for surgical patients who need care post-surgery.”

There also “continues to be high demand for specialized intensive care, with a number of high acuity patients who do not have COVID-19.”

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The ICU has 12 beds, and has taken over another six from the Coronary Care Unit, for a total of 18 beds that can support critically ill patients who require a ventilator.

AHS can increase the ICU to 27 critical care beds, if necessary, by doubling up on some patient spaces. The doctors told the Advocate this is already happening.

“We can also add transitional beds for the most stable ICU patients on our specialized cardiac and telemetry care unit,” stated the AHS release, adding that these options should ensure that the hospital can meet further increased demand.

Red Deer hospital has some dedicated inpatient units for COVID-19 positive patients and for persons awaiting COVID-19 test results. And AHS said it continues to implement COVID-19 pandemic response measures to ensure the site will have capacity for those who need it.

“We are utilizing patient spaces within the Medical Specialty Clinics to temporarily care for patients who are awaiting admission during times of greatest need. We are able to use this without impacting the services provided by the Medical Specialty Clinics as they are currently providing services virtually for patients.”

The Medical Specialty Clinic is also being used as a Minor Treatment Area, to help see patients as quickly as possible.

Further, AHS states it’s working to secure additional staffing supports in areas of greatest need.

Such efforts are in addition to a number of other temporary measures that were implemented to help mitigate pressures at the hospital.

Patients who don’t require the specialized care at Red Deer hospital are being transferred out to rural health facilities across the Central zone. Some patients are being discharged with assistance from Home Care or with family supports.

“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for the healthcare system, impacting nearly every facet of daily work at sites like RDRHC. We are extremely grateful for the heroic efforts of staff and physicians,” stated AHS.



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