Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre enacted overcapacity protocol earlier this week. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Time spent at overcapacity at Red Deer hospital creeps up

Overcapacity protocols used for first time in 2019

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre ran at overcapacity for almost three days earlier this week, making it technically the longest time spent at Level 3 overcapacity.

Allan Sinclair, senior operating officer with Alberta Health Service’s central zone, said overcapacity protocols were in place at the end of the day Monday until about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“This would be the longest that we would have been technically in over capacity protocol Level 3. However, there have been other occasions where we’ve been like this, two to three days of very high pressure to move patients through the system,” Sinclair said Thursday.

Level 4 is the highest overcapacity level.

He said at one point, the clock in the emergency department showed the average wait was five hours, and probably spiked higher at times.

“But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the waiting room is waiting five hours, because the most acute people would have been seen quicker. And there might have been times when people with less acute issues might have been seen longer.”

He said there wasn’t one particular issue that brought more people to emergency.

“This week, it was a little bit of everything. We’re seeing some flu cases come in. A little bit more than average cardiac patients. A little bit more than average of everything.”

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He said extra staffing helped open some additional hospital spaces to patients, and some who no longer needed acute care were released with enhanced home care support. Some rural patients returned to rural hospitals, and some Red Deer patients were also transferred.

“Not everyone’s happy with that. It’s disruptive at any time, but we had to use that as one of our strategies to make sure we had the Red Deer hospital fully open for the specialty services it provides.

“Those rural sites do provide great care as well and they’re staffed up for those circumstances.”

Red Deer hospital activated overcapacity protocols earlier this season in October and November.

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