As COVID cases begin to spike higher and higher in the province, this leads to hospitals once again being over capacity. In a new media release on Sept. 9, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and President and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS) Verna Yiu announced a potential solution to the problem. There will be up to $36 million in funding towards Alberta home care and continuing care facilities which will improve wages, increase the workforce and allow more Albertans to receive care outside hospitals. They are hoping this will free up critical resources needed to treat COVID patients during the fourth wave. Most of this funding will be going towards improving home care and facility-based continuing care. This is hoped to reduce pressure on all parts of the health-care system. Currently, more than 400 Albertans are in hospitals waiting to move into continuing care facilities. "We know that home care agencies are experiencing staffing challenges. Increasing the pool of available staff will mean we can move additional patients from hospitals to their homes when it is safe to do so. This is a benefit to patients who would rather get the care they need in the comfort of their own homes. It also benefits hospitals as they manage the increasing number of patients who need beds because of COVID-19 complications,” said Shandro. "Supporting home care agencies recruit and retain staff will enable more patients to receive high-quality care in their homes, improving capacity in our hospitals and allowing more patients to stay close to their loved ones,” added Yiu. As of now, contracted home care agencies will be receiving $22 million over two years in additional funding to provide wage increases. They hope this increase will help retain current staff, and help in recruiting additional staff. This will allow more Albertans to be cared for in their homes and not within hospitals. The other $14 million will be used to support these industries on a short-term basis. The government wishes to respond quickly to the surge in COVID-19 cases and hopes the additional funding will release some pressure. As of Sept. 13, Alberta has 16,265 active COVID cases with 686 Albertans hospitalized. 1,669 cases are active in the South Zone and 75 are hospitalized. As of Sept. 11 there was 160 active cases in the M.D of Taber. For more information visit www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=79809FCD0311F-CABD-0C1F-14B2E494FECFFB83.
Kenyon Stronski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times