Alberta doctors warn health care system on verge of collapse

Former Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. James Talbot is one of the authors of a report that warns the Alberta health care system is on the verge of collapse due to a surge in COVID-19-related hospitalizations unless the province takes decisive actions

A group of Alberta doctors are warning the health care system in the province could collapse under the weight of surging COVID hospitalizations by early October unless the province takes decisive action.

"It will not be able to handle people who come in with complications from their pregnancy, or who've been in more vehicle collisions, or who need life saving cancer surgery," said Dr. James Talbot, one of the authors of the warning.

He said in addition to hundreds of cancelled surgeries due to staffing shortages, the medical system is preparing to start using a triage protocol for patients, in other words deciding who will get the increasingly limited resources available.

"Plan for a situation in which you would not have enough beds for everyone. And that's what the triage protocol is. It's about who lives and who dies,” Talbot, a former Alberta chief medical officer of health said.

He said the dire projections do not take into account accelerated spread caused by the return to school or increased indoor gatherings with the coming cooler weather.

He also called the $100 vaccination incentive program a "failure."

"This wave is going to get significantly worse. And I can't give a time for when it will stop being worse because no effective precautions have been taken."

Hospitalizations have reached 803 as of Monday with 198 of those in Intensive Care Units. The vast majority are not fully vaccinated and have increasingly included younger patients.

According to AHS 71.2 per cent of Albertans age 12 and over are fully vaccinated. Infectious disease experts say it will likely take 90 per cent of the population to be fully vaccinated in order to prevent surges in cases and hospitalizations.