Queen Elizabeth (QEII) Hospital in Grande Prairie is transferring patients and postponing elective surgeries due to increasing pressures and rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.
QEII transferred seven patients to neighbouring healthcare centres on Saturday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) stated in a media release Sunday night.
“The announcement from AHS is absolutely concerning and disappointing to see,” said Jackie Clayton, mayor of Grande Prairie.
“This decision was not taken lightly; however, it is important to ensure the QEII has capacity available for COVID-19 patients who require care,” said AHS.
Rising COVID-19 numbers in the Grande Prairie area and the North zone are having an impact on the QEII.
Two days earlier, AHS announced that it would be postponing 45 elective surgical procedures per week at the QEII starting on Monday to increase bed capacity and create a dedicated COVID-19 unit.
“We are concerned with these impacts; however, we support AHS in prioritizing the health and safety of citizens in our region by making these difficult decisions,” the County of Grande Prairie stated.
When it is safe and appropriate to do so, AHS says they will transfer patients back to the QEII.
As of the end of the day, Aug. 30, the County of Grande Prairie area has 193 active cases, and the city has 480 active cases.
Vaccination rates remain low in the South Peace compared to the rest of the province.
In the west county, 48.4 per cent of eligible people have their first vaccination dose, 45.2 per cent in east county and 49.7 per cent in the city, while 42,3 per cent of the west county is fully vaccinated, 40.2 per cent in east county, and 43 per cent in the city.
According to the AHS website, 75.23 per cent of new COVID-19 cases come from unvaccinated people; 79.55 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are of unvaccinated people.
“We strongly urge all eligible Albertans to get immunized as quickly as possible and to continue following preventative measures such as staying home when sick,” said AHS.
On Tuesday, Grande Prairie city council discussed next steps to prevent further escalation of the spread of COVID-19 by reinstating its marketing plan.
The plan will include reminding people to stay home if they are not feeling well, washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask in large gatherings, and wearing a mask if they want to.
“Council doesn't believe that it's their role to tell people what to do in regards to vaccinations.
"We will encourage people and suggest that if you're interested in getting a vaccination, here are the locations that you could get a vaccination,” said Clayton.
She added that council is not health experts and expects guidance from the province.
“At this point, we really need support from the province in regards to what the next steps should be,” said the Grande Prairie mayor.
On Monday, the province announced that seniors living in congregate care facilities and immunocompromised Albertans would be eligible for a third dose of the vaccine on Sept. 1.
The third dose is expected to boost immunity levels and improve protection.
“If you want to wear a mask, please wear a mask, but remember, wash your hands, if you're not feeling well, stay home, if you do have COVID please quarantine, and if you're interested in getting a vaccination, the shots are available,” said Clayton
“The QE II Hospital remains a safe place to receive care – there is no increased risk to patients coming to the hospital,” said AHS.
AHS did not respond to any further questions from the News.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News