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‘Please get vaccinated': Albertans face sudden surgery delays as hospitals fill with COVID patients

Last Updated Sep 8, 2021 at 8:17 pm MST

CALGARY — Corina German has been waiting, in pain, for more than four years.

A day before her life-changing hysterectomy, she got a call from her doctor.

The surgery has been delayed. The reason? A flood of COVID-19 patients to hospitals.

“It was just devastating news because it’s something I’ve been wanting and needing for a very long time,” said German.

The flood of COVID patients forcing hospitals to relocate staff and postpone up to 30 per cent of surgeries in Calgary.

“It’s frustrating because the people who choose not to get vaccinated are taking up precious space.”

As of Tuesday, 85 per cent of COVID patients in the province’s ICU’s were unvaccinated, as well as 74 per cent of total COVID-19 hospitalizations.


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“I think those people who choose not to get vaccinated need to either start paying for Alberta Health Care or start paying to be in the hospital nightly and pay for the care they are taking away from people who need cancer surgery, people who need back surgery, hip surgery, my type of surgery.”

German has no idea when her procedure might resume.

She got prepped for it — and is keeping her medical bracelet on in hope — but has no idea how much longer it will be before she can get back to feeling herself.

“Not knowing when it’s going to happen, sort of waiting, waiting, waiting and you’re just sitting there stewing in worry and anxiety, there’s not much you can do, is difficult,” said Dr. Linda Carlson, a professor in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology at the University of Calgary.

Carlson says in cases where the illness progresses, like cancer, it’s even harder.

“The idea of having this invasive thing in their body is really upsetting for people. They just want to get it out. So, having to sit there and thinking that it’s potentially continuing to grow. Not knowing the impact of a delay on what’s happening with the cancer inside the body is a very difficult time.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is maintaining prioritized cancer surgeries as well as others classified as emergent and urgent.

It acknowledged the deep impact on those whose procedures fall outside these categories. They’re asking people to get vaccinated – a sentiment German echoes.

“I just am begging people to please get vaccinated so us humans can get our surgeries that we need to get done.”