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Local hospital prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Apr 3, 2020 at 7:07 am MDT

PHOTO. The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, pictured Summer 2019. MYMCMURRAY/Melanie Walsh Melanie Walsh

Residents asked several questions about Fort McMurray’s Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) at the April 2 virtual town hall.

Murray Crawford, Senior Operating Officer at the NLRHC provided an update on its COVID-19 preparedness.

“Right now, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our hospital.”

He added that hospital staff have access to a national stockpile of supplies.

The hospital did move their most vulnerable patients from NLRHC to other safer AHS facilities within the North Zone.

Crawford said the movement, which Alberta organized for “alternate levels of care patients”, is a calculated risk mitigation strategy.

“It not only protects that vulnerable population or seniors, but it also give us capacity in our hospital for acute beds when, and if, we have to admit increasing numbers during the surge of COVID-19.”

While the distance between these North Zone facilities may not be ideal in some cases, Crawford said patient care is their first priority.

“We are prepared and we’ve been planning for quite some time for many different scenarios, and we think we’re ready to continue to battle this pandemic.”

As of publication, there are three confirmed cases within Fort McMurray’s urban service area.

There are also 55 cases in the North Zone, including three deaths.

Free Parking

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta is following British Columbia’s lead by offering free parking at all Alberta Health Service (AHS) facilities.

Parking will be free to all health care workers and the general public as of Friday, April 3.

In a statement, the AHS says with many health care professionals working at various sites during this pandemic, this decision “will make these tensions easier.”

“Health care workers and the general public should have to worry about paying for parking in the midst of responding to COVID-19,” says Tyler Shandro Minister of Health. “Our government will provide whatever resources are needed to protect Albertans during the COVID-19 emergency.”

AHS says this is a temporary measure but will result in a monthly loss of $7.6 million.

Other provinces across the country are expected to follow suit.

This article includes excerpts from 660 News.