LETHBRIDGE, AB – Health officials here in southern Alberta are planning to care for more COVID-19 patients in local ICUs in the coming days.
Dr. Aaron Low, the Medical Director for AHS South Zone, says right now they’re managing as best they can with a total of 27 ICU beds, 17 in Lethbridge and 10 in Medicine Hat, now open.
Low, who’s also an emergency room doctor at Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH), says they’re actively planning, right now, to unfortunately get even busier here.
“We plan to open more (beds) if we need to and that’s expected to happen within the next few days. We’re looking at how we can increase our capacity so we can take care of the predicted number of patients,” says Low.
Low stresses the situation in AHS South Zone and across the province “is very serious”, noting they have the ability open more beds at Chinook Regional Hospital. The problem though is staffing those beds.
“This is a big deal for us,” stressed Low. “In order to do that we have to get additional staff. Our main limitation to opening more beds is staff. We encourage people to understand how important our situation is right now with beds. This is real, this is a real situation and it’s very possible that we could be overwhelmed.”
Dr. Low is on the ground and has seen the COVID-19 situation first hand. He’s encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.
One other thing he wants people to know is that the hospital system is not collapsing as some have suggested. Dr. Low says if you have a medical emergency, like chest pains or stroke systems, you need to come to an E.R. right away. He notes in the past some people have gotten quite ill because they didn’t want to come to the hospital during an emergency because of the fear of the ongoing COVID situation.
“It’s safe and they will get great care if they come to an emergency department,” says Dr. Low.