LETHBRIDGE, AB – Nurses and respiratory therapists here in southern Alberta are reportedly being pulled off other departments to help cover the COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips shared information on the shift Friday afternoon at a press conference outside Chinook Regional Hospital.

She says Alberta Health Services South Zone leadership announced Thursday that staffing required to address case numbers and other vital services like vaccine clinics are having an impact on activity and capacity at Chinook Regional Hospital.

Part of the email shared by Phillips, says staff will be displaced for at least a month and will result in a loss of 8-percent of non-emergency surgeries and a loss of 30 percent of cardio-respiratory outpatient services.

As of Wednesday’s data, the South Zone had 41 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 12 of them were in the ICU.

Lethbridge East UCP MLA, Nathan Neudorf sent us a statement responding to the cancelled or delayed surgeries at CRH, saying he shares concerns.

“Postponing surgeries is a last resort measure that I have actively advocated for avoiding unless absolutely necessary. However, caring for those who are the most at risk in our hospitals comes first. I would like to express my gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals at the CRH for their tireless work throughout the pandemic and I have complete faith in their ability to make the right decisions for patients in Lethbridge at this time. I will continue to advocate our government to further address the backlog in surgeries and appointments this will create.”

As a whole, Alberta currently has the highest infection rate of any Canadian province or US state.