Alberta doctors sound the alarm over critical care staff shortages – Goldstream News Gazette


The Alberta Medical Association says high numbers of COVID-19 in the province are causing a desperate shortage of specialist staff to care for critical care patients.

“The demand for nurses (in intensive care units) is currently so high that we must increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse,” the medical association said in a public letter on Monday.

“This reduction in the staffing ratio is well below our normal standard of care. This will jeopardize the quality of the resuscitation care we are able to provide. “

The letter was signed by members of the group’s intensive care section.

Alberta hospitals and intensive care units are overwhelmed with intensive care patients, most of them with COVID-19. The overwhelming majority are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Alberta Health Services has educated physicians on the criteria to use in the event of a health system collapse and must make on-the-spot decisions about who receives life-saving care.

Last week, Dr Paul Parks, the medical association’s chief of emergency medicine, said the staff shortage was affecting care in other ways. Parks said some intensive care patients are not placed under the available ventilators because there are not enough nurses to watch them.

Kerry Williamson of Alberta Health Services says that while typical intensive care is one nurse per patient, an alternative model, known as the hub, is being used to adapt to the pandemic while ensuring the care delivery.

Each center has one or two nurses trained in intensive care and two to four registered nurses.

“This model combines registered nurses from other regions with existing trained critical care (nurses) to expand the availability of the critical care nursing skill set to a greater number of patients,” Williamson said in a report. E-mail.

“Patients in intensive care are never looked after by nurses alone. Entire teams work with critical care nurses, including respiratory therapists and many more. “

In recent weeks, the province has worked to create more ad hoc intensive care beds, more than doubling the normal total of 173 to accommodate 312 patients currently in intensive care.

Staff have been reassigned, forcing massive cancellations of surgeries, including cancer procedures.

Alberta has asked the federal government for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces have said they will respond with eight additional critical care nurses and airlift to take critically ill patients to other provinces.

Almost two weeks ago, Alberta reintroduced assembly restrictions and provided proof of vaccination requirements for entry to restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts and gyms in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.

The number of daily cases remains well over a thousand and a growing number of doctors and infectious disease specialists are calling for a “firewall” lockdown, which would include the closure of schools, businesses and other activities.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a weekend radio interview rejected a lockdown. He said it would “make no sense for the 80% of the population who are vaccinated” and who are much less likely to transmit the disease and be hospitalized.

Alberta has lagged behind other provinces in immunization. Kenney and his United Conservative government tried to persuade more people to get vaccinated by offering $ 1 million raffles, other freebies and, most recently, $ 100 debit cards.

About 73 percent of eligible Albertans, those 12 and older, are fully immunized, while 82 percent have received at least one injection.

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said it was time to partner with community groups and health professionals to go door-to-door and help those who are not vaccinated due to health or work problems or a language barrier.

These groups could “have conversations and deliver Alberta vaccines right on people’s doorsteps,” Notley said in Calgary.

—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus Health

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