Fifty new ICU beds promised by the Alberta government have been added to Alberta hospitals.
Thursday morning, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Jason Copping made the announcement at Mount Royal University’s nursing simulation lab.
“We all know the past two and a half years put unprecedented strain on our public health care system. The public health crisis unmasked a serious lack of capacity in not just Alberta but the entire Canadian health care system,” Kenney said.
The province made the initial addition announcement in March. In May, 19 of the 50 had opened. And on Thursday, seven months later, the full 50 were announced to have opened in 12 different hospitals.
“It’s ‘ICU if necessary,’ not necessarily ICU,” Copping said. “When the beds are not in use, the nurses and other staff assigned to them will support other areas of the hospital.
“The pandemic has shown that we need more permanent capacity and we need more staff, and we need to be flexible with those resources.”
In the Edmonton Zone, 18 ICU beds were added throughout the University of Alberta Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Sturgeon Community Hospital.
In the Calgary Zone, the Foothills Medical Centre, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital and the South Health Campus got a combined 13 new ICU beds.
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The Red Deer Regional Hospital added eight ICU beds, six more were added to the Chinook Regional Hospital, and in the North Zone, the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital and the Northern Lights Regional Hospital got five new beds between them.
Those 50 new beds brings the number of ICU beds up to 223.
According to AHS data, there were 188 patients in ICU across the province on Thursday – above the pre-pandemic baseline, but representing 88 per cent of the current capacity.
A year ago, 257 COVID-19 patients were in ICU, the pandemic high water mark to date.
Kenney also announced a memorandum of understanding with the Phillipines government to fast track credentialed Filipino nurses to work in Alberta.
The province also announced a $3.5 million expansion in educational opportunities for internationally-educated nurses.
“Nurses are the backbone of our health care system,” Copping said, repeating a promise to continue to expand capacity in the province’s healthcare system.
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