It’s no suprise that Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre continues to suffer from over capacity, says a spokesman for Albera’s nurses.
The hospital reached a Level 3 overcapacity protocol for the first time Tuesday, which resulted in eight patients being moved to other facilities. That’s one measure less than the highest level.
David Harrigan, labour relations manager for the United Nurses of Alberta, said the union knew conditions would worsen.
“We’ve been saying for three years there’s a crisis, and AHS has simply ignored it,” Harrigan said Friday.
In June, the union filed a staffing shortage grievance centred on the hospital’s emergency department.
He said every day there are up to 10 or more nurses on overtime or working additional shifts.
“It’s not hard to fix. If you have enough nurses, then you can deal with more patients. If you intentionally understaff, of course you’re going to hit a crisis.”
Harrigan said there are probably not enough beds, but it’s made worse by the fact there’s not enough staff.
“If you have enough staff, you’re able to see more patients. It’s as simple as that.”
Arbitration between the nurses and Alberta Health Services is scheduled in January.
“We’re hopeful after January, they’ll be ordered to hire more, and finally, people can start feeling a bit safer,” Harrigan said.
Red Deer is consistently one of the five busiest hospitals in Alberta. A 2015 AHS report showed it was 96 beds short.
On Tuesday, the eight patients were moved to Lacombe and others to the Villa Marie seniors facility in Red Deer.
Allan Sinclair, senior operating officer with AHS’s central zone, said at no time was the hospital turning people away or not able to provide specialty care.
“We are the go-to place for higher order diagnostics or specialty services and specialty consults. We need to make sure we’re putting in these (overcapacity) protocols so we we can still take these patients. This is the function of the Red Deer site,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair said the hospital is frequently at a Level 1 overcapacity protocol and that it’s hard to predict what may happen in the future.
“I think we’re going to be experiencing some additional challenges this winter through the cold and flu season, which hasn’t really started yet,” Sinclair said.
“Sometimes, you just get a few bad days in a row where there’s some additional sick patients that are there. On Tuesday, we had a real influx of extremely challenging cases. It was just a busy day.”
He said the hospital will continue to deal with overcapacity by identifying patients who can be moved to other sites.