LETHBRIDGE, AB – There’s concern being expressed by doctors in Calgary and Edmonton that this third wave of COVID-19 is starting to take its toll on hospitals in those areas.

Despite what’s going in the province’s two biggest cites, that’s fortunately not the case here.

Dr. Aaron Low is the South Zone Medical Director and an ER physician at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge. He says even with rising case numbers, this region isn’t facing the same hospital situation as elsewhere across Alberta.

“We do have plans for surge capacity,” says Dr. Low. “Right now, we’re carefully watching what’s happening in the province. I think we have less concern than other places. It’s almost like we saw the third wave earlier than other places (in Alberta).”

One thing Dr. Low notes is that most people in Alberta ICU’s now suffering from COVID-19 are younger.

“This is very real to me because when I work in ICU, I see the heartache of it. These are people, mostly now in our ICU, these are patients who are younger than they were before. Because as you know our vaccinations have been quite successful in older patients,” Low stated.

As of Monday this week there were over 600 hospitalizations Alberta-wide related to COVID-19 with over 140 in ICU.

Dr. Low says AHS South Zone has “excellent plans” if there is an increase in the region in terms of the number of COVID patients. He notes our (South Zone) percent of increase in cases recently has not been as much as what has been seen in other places.

From an intensive care unit perspective there is capacity to increase beds in both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat if the need warrants. Dr. Low says it would take a” huge” increase though in cases to fill South Zone ICUs to capacity.