Alberta premier, Dr. Hinshaw to provide COVID-19 update Thursday as Omicron spreads
Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health will provide an update on COVID-19 and the health-care system at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
The news conference with the premier and Dr. Deena Hinshaw will be streamed live in this article post.
According to data from Alberta Health, hospitalizations in the province have increased by 59.1 per cent between Jan. 4 and 11.
On Wednesday, the province reported 748 Albertans were in hospital with COVID-19, 82 of whom were in ICU.
In a statement, a spokesperson said Alberta Health Services is “extremely concerned by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, both in the community and in our hospitals.
“We are starting to see some impact to health-care services due to staffing challenges, particularly at some acute care services at rural sites due to staff illness or isolation,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said.
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As of Jan. 11, there were 5,862 Alberta health-care workers sick with COVID-19.
Dr. Neeja Bakshi, an internal medicine and COVID unit physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, is one of them.
Bakshi says her Edmonton hospital is in “bad, bad shape.”
“On top of that, while admissions are going up, we are seeing staff shortages… because we are getting COVID and people are getting ill and they’re having to isolate.”
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AHS says it has been planning for a rise in staff illness due to the Omicron variant.
“Plans include shifting staff members to areas of highest priority, using alternate models of care, and prioritizing HCWs for testing to maximize available workforce,” Williamson said.
“If required, reduction in services and surgeries will be contemplated in order to redeploy staff to areas of highest need.”
AHS said its staff sick rate for December 2021 was “in line” with previous months. However, “we know we will see increased sick rates in the days ahead as Omicron spread continues,” Williamson said.
AHS is currently gathering sick rate data for December 2021 and January to date.
In December 2019, 5.3 per cent of AHS employees were off sick. In December 2020, that number was 5.6 per cent. In November 2021, it was 5.4 per cent.
According to its website, AHS has 108,600 direct employees, 12,500 employees of subsidiaries, 12,000 volunteers, 11,000 doctors, and 9,000 AHS medical staff.
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