Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is dealing with its sixth COVID-19 outbreak on individual units at the hospital.
The current outbreak, on an acute care unit, was declared on March 9. Twelve patients and three staff members have currently tested positive, and two people have died: a man in his 80s and another in his 70s.
COVID-19 cases are climbing in the city just ahead of school spring breaks and Easter when people will be tempted to gather and travel.
“Our COVID numbers actually aren’t bad right now in the hospital, but we’ll see what the upcoming weeks bring,” said Dr. Keith Wolstenholme, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital.
He said the hospital has been through enough COVID waves to be able to withstand what comes. Serious outcomes have decreased since many of the elderly, vulnerable patients are vaccinated. More of the new infections are younger patients, and evidence suggests that it takes longer for them to get sick and and require hospitalization.
He said since the hospital is often at overcapacity, cutting back on elective surgery is the only way to make sure COVID and other emergency patients have beds when there is a spike in patients.
“That’s the only thing we can control. The sacrifice comes when our bed situation is so overwhelmed that we can’t place scheduled surgery patients into beds afterwards. That’s happened a few times during the last year. That’s why we’re trying to prevent the hospital from being overwhelmed because we still want to be able to do those surgeries,” Wolstenholme said.
He said he understands how frustrated people are, but the only thing that’s going to make COVID go away is large-scale vaccination.