Hospital bed closures continue in Rimbey and Lacombe at a time when numbers of active COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in central Alberta.
As of Aug. 25, 12 out of 23 acute care beds are closed at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre, leaving 48 per cent of beds or spaces in operation.
The reason given by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for the closures of the beds are temporary staff shortage due to vacation, vacancies and ongoing recruitment.
The average occupancy for the beds at the facility in March, 2021 was about 82 per cent.
The closures started on July 30 and are anticipated to end on Sept. 1.
In Lacombe, 11 out of 35 acute care beds (about 31 per cent) have been closed since July 8. They are anticipated to reopen for use on Sept. 3.
The historic average for occupancy is about 87 per cent. AHS cited the same reason for closures: vacations and ongoing recruitment.
The NP says the province’s healthcare system is under “enormous strain” and the situation is “deteriorating.”
Galahad, a community northeast of Stettler, has had all of their 20 long term care beds at the Galahad Care Centre closed since June 2, 2021. Those beds are supposed to reopen on Aug. 31.
“Twenty six communities in Alberta currently have bed closures due to staffing shortages, and AHS has invoked emergency provisions in their collective agreement with nurses cancelling vacations and forcing additional overtime,” stated a release from the opposition on Aug. 25.
“Over the past twenty four hours, Alberta’s active cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions for COVID-19 continued to rise, while the province hit a test positivity rate of ten point five per cent, a level which the Chief Medical Officer had previously described as a ‘grim milestone and one that should concern us all’ during the second wave.”
The NDP further called on Jason Kenney’s government to present a plan to address rising cases and hospitalizations.
According to AHS, 98.2 per cent of the 8,500 acute care beds and 98.6 per cent of the 1,200 emergency department care spaces across the province remain open and available for patients.
“AHS makes every effort to secure staff and physician coverage before taking steps to reduce the number of beds and/or care spaces in any of our facilities. Temporary reductions are only done as a last resort,” AHS states on their website, albertahleathservices.ca.
“Summer reductions occur annually due to staff and physician vacations, scheduled upgrades and construction projects in order to enhance patient and family experiences. AHS plans and prepares for bed reductions to minimize impact on patients, staff, and physicians.”