Alberta may have to activate triage system for critical-care patients amid rise in COVID-19 patients

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More than 1,000 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in Alberta hospitals, pushing the province closer to the possibility of activating a triage system for critical care patients.

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The situation prompted the Alberta government earlier this week to request federal help to airlift patients from the province. Premier Jason Kenney also replaced health minister amid mounting criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic.

Hospitals across the province are being pushed to the brink, with ICU surge capacity nearing the 90-percent threshold at which Alberta Health Services can activate critical-care triage protocols. The province is building surge beds and requesting outside help to prevent that scenario.

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“We’re all anxiously tracking the daily numbers,” said Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. “We’re just hoping and praying we don’t get [to the protocol]”

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On Wednesday, Alberta had 1,040 COVID-19 patients in hospital – the highest number recorded during the pandemic – including 230 in critical care. Hospitalization has the highest rate of COVID-19 patients in the country at 23.5 per 100,000, with Saskatchewan trailing at 22.5 per 100,000.

Under Phase 1 of the protocol, only patients with more than a 20 percent chance of survival next year would be eligible for critical care. Under Phase 2, which can be activated at 95 per cent occupancy, only adults with more than 50 per cent probability will be eligible. Officer…

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