Pressure on Red Deer hospital’s intensive care beds has eased with fewer COVID-19 patients requiring that level of care.
Almost two weeks ago, the hospital had 38 COVID patients, including 17 in the ICU.
Alberta Health Services said as of Tuesday morning, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre had 14 COVID patients, five of which were in the ICU.
“It looks like we’re slowly turning the corner for the better,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Wolstenholme who was among doctors who spoke out two weeks ago when the ICU was nearing double its capacity.
“Whatever people have done for the last two weeks, it’s worked. The numbers are starting to come down. We’re starting to see some of our pressures backing off a little bit. Whatever people have been doing, keep doing it.”
Active cases have dropped significantly in the last 12 days.
On Jan. 7, Central zone had 1,418 active cases of the virus, and there were 97 people in hospital and 17 in intensive care. Red Deer had 257 active cases.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Central zone had 1,050 active cases, 58 people in hospital and nine in intensive care, according to data from the Alberta Government. Red Deer had 171 active COVID-19 cases on the government’s geospacial map.
AHS said across the province, it was working to increase capacity where possible to continue to ensure that acute care can respond to COVID-19 pressures.
“As part of our ongoing capacity planning efforts, we have worked to free up additional beds in our rural sites across the zone to support COVID-19 patients. Part of this work has included discharging patients who can safely return home with Home Care or family supports in place, and transferring those patients who don’t require an acute care space to an alternative setting to continue their care,” said AHS in a statement.
“We continue to urge all residents to take appropriate precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19: wash your hands, wear a mask, physically distance, limit your cohort and stay home when sick.”
Despite the positive trend at the hospital, overall capacity is affected.
Wolstenholme said with the number of people being admitted to hospital, and COVID outbreaks on some units, overall hospital capacity continues to be impacted.
“We’re still having to unfortunately cancel scheduled surgeries just because of the overall bed issue.”
He said without enough beds about 30 scheduled surgeries a week are being cancelled which is certainly not insignificant.
One operating room is not being used, and a couple other are running at half capacity.
“We’re hoping when February comes that we’ll be able to start running it closer to full capacity again.”
Up until about two weeks ago, Red Deer had eight COVID-related deaths during the pandemic. The death toll has since reached 17.
Central zone has seen 75 deaths so far.