Red Deer hospital pushed to limits by outbreaks

Influenza and norovirus have contributed to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre at times exceeding its capacity for patients — most recently this week.

Influenza and norovirus have contributed to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre at times exceeding its capacity for patients — most recently this week.

This week Alberta Health Services announced that major hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary were above 100 per cent capacity in most units.

“Certainly there have been patients who have been in non-traditional rooms and we have been over capacity throughout this week for periods of time,” said Robert Swanson, director of medical surgical impatient services at the Red Deer hospital, on Friday.

“There are spaces we have designated on each of the inpatient units where we’re still able to care for our patients and we still strive to deliver effective care to those patients regardless of that traditional room or non-traditional room.

“Certainly we’re trying to ensure that those that require the most intensive care have traditional patient rooms so they have the amenities that are right next to them and are able to have the privacy.”

One surgery was deferred on Wednesday due to capacity volume, in which the flu is one factor, he said.

Since December 2010, Alberta Health Services has used dedicated lounge chairs or beds in hospitals when they are overcapacity.

AHS hospitals around the province are also easing temporary seasonal pressures by providing additional home care resources to facilitate discharge; prioritizing placement to continuing care sites for hospitals most affected; and repatriating medically stable out-of-province patients to their home provinces.

Swanson said Red Deer does look at repatriating patients back to their home hospital within Central Zone of Alberta Health Services quickly when possible.

“When you get to capacity, every little bit helps.”

He said the capacity level varies day to day, but usually in the winter months the Red Deer hospital is very close to 100 per cent.

“It’s more of a seasonal thing. Certainly I don’t think this winter would be markedly different than other winters.”

Swanson said influenza has affected both patients and staff.

“We don’t know if we’ve hit the crest of it yet.”

As of Jan. 5, Central Zone had 182 lab-confirmed flu cases this flu season. Within the entire province, there were 1,145 cases.

As of Jan. 5, Central Zone had one lab-confirmed outbreak of norovirus at a seniors lodge and the province has had 45 confirmed outbreaks.

As of Jan. 5, a total of 49,599 people were immunized against the flu by public health in AHS Central Zone. In the province, 454,436 were immunized.

Immunization is still available at Red Deer Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre, 300 Jordan Parkway. For an appointment, call 403-356-6300.

Visit or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465 (LINK) for more information on the flu.

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