Stollery Children's Hospital ward to temporarily act as adult emergency patient outflow

Anticipated high patient volumes due to Omicron case surges prompted a new ward in the Stollery Children's Hospital to become an adult emergency outflow centre temporarily.

In a memorandum last week, Alberta Health Services (AHS) says the children's hospital will maintain seven operating theatres instead of eight due to the temporary ward shift. The new adult treatment space was expected to be operational as early as Wednesday.

"As we continue to navigate pressures across the zone due to the COVID-19 Omicron virus, we need to ensure that we maintain patient access and flow across the continuum of care," said the memorandum, addressed to all Stollery staff and physicians.

"The proximity of this space to the emergency department is crucial in facilitating safe patient care," the letter said.

"If pediatric surgery volumes experience a surge, new options and solutions will be explored."

In a statement to CTV News, AHS said the adjustment would not result in pediatric surgery reductions currently being performed, but "a small number" of scheduled pediatric surgeries booked for February will be rescheduled.

"This change is part of the site's pandemic plan," said Blain Fairbairn, AHS spokesperson. "In these extraordinary times, AHS has had to make significant changes to the way we deliver healthcare.

"What has remained the same (is) anyone needing urgent, emergency healthcare will receive it."

While cases reported by Alberta Health and wastewater testing data indicates a downward trend, the province expects a hospitalization peak later this month.

The Kaye Edmonton Clinic is expected to open a pandemic response unit for patients needing "non-significant" care and symptom monitoring to open beds and spaces in hospitals and ICUs. A similar unit is to open in Calgary's South Health Campus as well.