The Alberta Medical Association says the province’s high COVID-19 numbers are behind a dire shortage of specialized staff to care for critical care patients.
“for demand” [intensive care unit] The nurses are currently so many that we need to increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse,” the medical association said in a public letter on Monday.
“This shortfall in staffing ratio is well below our usual standard of care. It will jeopardize the quality of ICU care that we are able to provide.”
The letter was signed by members of the group’s intensive care section.
Alberta’s hospitals and intensive care wards are overwhelmed with critical care patients, most of whom are stricken with COVID-19. The overwhelming majority are either illiterate or partially vaccinated.
Alberta Health Services is providing doctors with information on the criteria to use when a health system collapses and they must decide on the spot who receives lifesaving care.
Last week, Dr Paul Parks, the medical association’s head of emergency medicine, said staff shortages were affecting care in other ways. Dr. Parks said some critical patients are not being put on available ventilators because there are not enough nurses to supervise them.
While typical ICU care is one nurse per patient, an alternative model, known as a hub, is being used to adapt to the pandemic, said Kerry Williamson of Alberta Health Services, while ensuring care is .
Each hub includes one or two trained intensive care nurses and two to four registered nurses.
“This model has registered nurses from other areas with existing trained ICUs [nurses] To expand the availability of prescribed critical-care nursing skills to more patients,” Mr Williamson said in an e-mail.
“ICU patients are never looked after by nurses alone. The entire team works with nurses in the ICU, including respiratory therapists and many others. “
In recent weeks, the province has scrambled to create more ad-hoc intensive care beds, more than double the normal total of 173 to accommodate the 312 patients currently receiving critical care.
Staff has been relegated to the mass cancellation of surgeries, including cancer procedures.
Alberta has sought help from the federal government, and the Canadian Armed Forces has said it will respond with eight more intensive care nurses and air transportation to transport critically ill patients to other provinces.
About two weeks ago, Alberta reintroduced proof-of-vaccination requirements for admission to restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts and gyms to try to reduce the spread of the virus.
The number of daily cases has remained more than 1,000 a day for weeks and the new numbers released on Monday did not provide any respite.
Alberta averaged more than 1,700 cases a day from Friday to Sunday. There were 23 more COVID-19-related deaths to bring the total to 2,645 since the pandemic began.
There are over 21,000 active cases in hospitals with COVID-19 and over 1,000 in ICUs, including 265.
A growing number of doctors and infectious disease experts are calling for a “firebreak” lockdown, which would include the closure of schools, businesses and other activities.
The medical association added its voice to the lockdown call on Monday.
“This is an urgent problem that needs to be acted upon. We are at the edge of a very dangerous cliff, which will see physicians and other health care workers making decisions on what to do if case numbers continue down this path.” So who does and what doesn’t,” President Dr. Paul Boucher said in a news release.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney dismissed the lockdown in a weekend radio interview. He said it “would not make sense for the 80 percent of the vaccinated population” and that the chances of spreading the disease and being hospitalized are very low.
Alberta lags behind other provinces in terms of vaccination. Mr. Kenny and his United Conservative government are trying to persuade as many people as possible to get their shots by offering a $1 million prize draw, other gifts and, most recently, a $100 debit card.
About 73 percent of eligible Albertans, those 12 and older, have been fully vaccinated, while 82 percent have had at least one shot.
Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley said it was time to go door-to-door with community groups and health care professionals to help those who have not been vaccinated because of health or work concerns or a language barrier.
Ms Notley in Calgary said “those groups are having conversations and can offer Alberta vaccines at people’s doorsteps.”
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