Red Deer hospital has reached an agreement with its emergency department nurses. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer hospital has reached an agreement with its emergency department nurses. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Health officials stress emergency departments are safe

Numbers going to emergency departments plummeted early in pandemic but recovering

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Alberta Health Services is reassuring Albertans that hospital emergency departments are safe.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released data on Thursday that showed emergency department visits plummeted during the early months of the pandemic.

In April, the number of emergency visits across the country was cut by half to 25,000 as potentially sick people stayed away.

Emergency department visits began to increase again as the pandemic wore on, and AHS said it is “now seeing a return to normal (emergency department) volumes.”

Health providers also urged those with urgent health conditions to visit the emergency department without fear of COVID-19.

“We understand why people may have been anxious to visit an emergency department,” says AHS in a response to questions.

“However, our hospitals and emergency departments remain safe places to come and receive care.

“We strongly encourage Albertans to seek care for any new or changing symptom they have. The health system is here for you.

“Delaying care can lead to more serious outcomes. Please, don’t delay. Speaking to your care provider about your health can help identify health concerns earlier, which can improve your health outcomes.

“If someone thinks they have a serious or life-threatening injury or illness, they should go straight to an emergency department or call 911 immediately.”

AHS says patients coming to hospitals or other health-care facilities face no increased infection risk.

“All health-care workers are asked to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure risk using a screening tool before reporting to a site for their shift, and our frontline teams are practising continuous masking while at work.”

Any patient with COVID symptoms, or who has tested positive for the virus, is isolated from others.

“As well, stringent visitor restrictions are in place, minimizing any risk of transmission from outside of the hospital.”

Institute for Health Information researchers found, as expected, a steep drop in planned surgeries as the health-care system cancelled elective procedures.

However, researchers were surprised to see a 17 to 21 per cent decline in life-saving and urgent surgeries, such as cancer and heart bypass operations.

In Alberta, the number of surgeries fell by 34 per cent from March to June, compared with the same period in 2019. Canada-wide, the number of surgeries was down 47 per cent.

“Like many jurisdictions, AHS postponed all non-urgent, scheduled surgeries in March to free up hospital beds in advance of an expected surge in patients with COVID-19,” says AHS.

Some postponed surgeries were rescheduled beginning in May.

The rising number of cases in Alberta has led to concerns voiced by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, that surgeries may have to be cancelled again if infection numbers cannot be brought under control.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Organizers of central Alberta anti-lockdown rodeo plead not guilty

Ty and Gail Northcott charged under the Public Health Act

(Black Press file photo.)
Road closures at both ends of Red Deer next week

Red Deer motorists should expect delays with road closures in the north… Continue reading

(File photo by Advocate staff)
37-year-old from Red Deer dies in highway crash

An individual from Red Deer has died after a collision on Highway… Continue reading

Grade one teacher Heidi Dimou arranges the desks in line with physical distancing policy in her class in preparation for the new school year at the Willingdon Elementary School in Montreal, on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta students expected to return to in-person learning next week

Kids can anticipate a return to the classroom next week in Alberta.… Continue reading

This grizzly bear had been hanging out near Aurum Lodge and the Cline River area and was later killed by Fish and Wildlife, says an area resident. (Contributed photo)
Grizzly sniffing for human food west of Nordegg killed

Lodge owner reminds campers to keep all food away from wildlife

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Trudeau says he knew about investigation into general overseeing vaccines weeks ago

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he learned weeks ago that… Continue reading

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return if they meet some straightforward conditions, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirms.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canadians can drive to U.S. for COVID-19 vax and avoid quarantine, Ottawa confirms

TORONTO — Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Quebec can modify part of the Canadian Constitution unilaterally: Trudeau

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Quebec can unilaterally modify part… Continue reading

In this Thursday, April 29, 2021, file photo, giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, West Germany. Canadian environmentalists are welcoming a report from the International Energy Agency that says new fossil fuel investment must end if the world is to meet its climate goals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Martin Meissner
Canadian environmentalists happy with International Energy Agency report

Environmentalists say a report from the International Energy Agency that concludes investment… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ceasefire needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid loss of more civilians: PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is calling for a… Continue reading

A forest fire burns late into the evening northeast of Prince Albert, Sask., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis
Saskatchewan wildfire grows, forcing evacuations in the area to expand

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Dry conditions and strong winds caused a large… Continue reading

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Tam hopeful for summer even as Canada hits grim death milestone in COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA — Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says she expects… Continue reading

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alex Pantling/Pool via AP
Canadian teenager Daniel Jebbison turns heads with Premier League goal

Jebbison, 17, is the youngest player in Premier League history to score on his first start in England’s top tier

Most Read