EDMONTON — The head of emergency medicine for the Alberta Medical Association says major components of triage have already begun in Alberta.
Dr. Paul Parks says that in recent days, some critically ill COVID-19 patients who should be on ventilators are not getting them.
He says that’s on top of previously announced mass cancellations of surgeries, along with patient transfers as doctors balance medical need with available space.
Parks says it’s not at the point where doctors must make on-the-spot, life-and-death decisions.
But he says that’s not far away and, when it comes, the second stage of triage will follow quickly, including making those same decisions about children.
Parks says Alberta Health Services is doing everything it can, but he says the government has failed to lead by imposing lax health restrictions and by allowing mass gatherings, including in schools and at sports events.
Alberta is seeing well over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.
Parks says there needs to be an immediate response, including mandatory mask mandates everywhere and shutting down schools and mass gatherings.
Dr. Verna Yiu, head of Alberta Health Services (AHS), said this week one key reason that intensive care wards have not been overwhelmed is because enough COVID-19 patients are dying to free up bed space.
CityNews reached out to AHS regarding Parks’ claim, in which they responded:
“The critical care triage has not been implemented, and our hope is that we will not have to implement it.
It will only be implemented if all efforts to increase ICU capacity are exhausted – that has not happened yet.
AHS continues to add ICU surge spaces, including 42 in the past seven days (and 20 in the past 24 hours).
Any patient who requires mechanical ventilation is currently able to receive it.
We acknowledge that we are operating at a reduced standard of care, however safety remains at the forefront of all decisions.
We need everyone’s help to reduce the pressure on our healthcare system – get immunized as quickly as you can, and follow all public health restrictions.”