As coronavirus cases soar, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has five COVID-19 patients in intensive care and is ready to take in more.
The hospital has a 12-bed ICU set aside for COVID patients and another six beds are available — also ventilator equipped — in the coronary care unit.
“We have the ability to increase to 20 beds if necessary to accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator,” says AHS.
“While occupancy has been running high at RDRHC, as it tends to during the fall and winter months, we have plans in place to ensure beds are available if needed, to provide care for patients with COVID-19.
“Across the province, AHS is working to increase capacity where we can in order to continue to ensure we have the acute care resources – including staff and equipment – to respond to rising COVID-19 pressures.”
As of Tuesday, 112 COVID patients are in ICU in Alberta. Six of those are in central zone hospitals.
Alberta now has 654 people in hospital — 50 in central zone — because of COVID.
In her daily COVID update on Monday, Alberta’s medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw made it clear that those pressures are expected to continue and further restrictions are needed.
“We are now in the ninth month of this pandemic. I’m more concerned than ever before about the spread of this virus,” said Hinshaw.
Additional measures introduced at the end of November had an impact but were not sufficent to “bend the curve enough,” she said.
Premier Jason Kenney’s government responded on Tuesday, announcing a series of new restrictions due to take effect at midnight Satuday. A province-wide mask mandate was introduced, in-person dining has been halted at all bars and restaurants and recreation facilities, personal wellness services, such as hair salons, will be closed again. The measures are expected to be in effect until at least Jan. 9.
On Monday, Hinshaw singled out central zone as an area of particular concern.
“In central zone, we have the highest acceleration in case rates over the past couple of weeks of any zone across the province,” she said.
AHS says that in an effort to build capacity, new staff are being brought in to work in various areas and additional beds will be freed up throughout the central zone to be ready for COVID patients.
“Part of this work will include transferring those patients who don’t require an acyte care space to an alternate setting.
“We are also advancing aggressive recruitment and staffing strategies to ensure that we are able to staff additional beds and support areas of greatest need.”
According to AHS statistics, the average age of hospitalized COVID patients is 62 and the average age for those requiring intensive care is 62. The average age for those not requiring hospitalization is 36 and the average age for those who died from COVID is 82.
For those who test positive, 3.2 per cent will end up in hospital and 0.6 per cent in intensive care. The fatality rate sits at 0.9 per cent.
AHS says any who believe they may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive, they can book tests online.
If an outbreak EI number has been provided, AHS asks people to use that because it helps trace results related to common exposures.
Some people who knew someone in their workplace had tested positive found that they could not progress through the online booking system without a number, which in some cases they did not have.
AHS says that issue has been fixed.
“We acknowledge there’s been a delay in providing outbreak EI numbers to some Albertans and as such have adjusted our online system so that inputting an EI number is no longer a mandatory requirement to complete the booking process.”