Alberta requests field hospitals from Ottawa and Red Cross as rising COVID cases strain capacity
EDMONTON — The Alberta government has asked the federal government and the Red Cross to supply four field hospitals to care for patients as the COVID-19 case numbers in the province continue to rise, straining the capacity of the health-care system in the province.
The request is for “a structure and beds and other equipment, not for Red Cross staff,” said an Alberta government source.
For weeks, the province has been struggling to keep case counts under control, adding more stringent restrictions in recent weeks, including a total ban on in-home gatherings and restricting fitness facilities and hours when Albertans can drink in bars.
But the request is a sign that the scenario Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has warned of is coming to fruition: Already in parts of the province, there have been cancellations of non-essential surgeries because of the COVID burden on hospitals.
Alberta has seen significant increases in daily case counts in recent weeks. As of Wednesday afternoon’s update, there were 16,144 active cases in the province, with 504 people in hospital, 97 in the ICU. More than 560 people have died.
The Alberta government has promised to ensure there are 425 intensive care unit beds and 2,250 regular beds to care for COVID-19 patients. The field hospital request is not part of the planning to expand ICU and regular hospital beds, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
“This is not part of our current plans, this is conversations about a contingency plan,” said Shandro. “This is a conversation that was had with Red Cross to understand if that was even possible.”