Calgary field hospital, built for the COVID-19 pandemic, less than half full

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As surgeries are being cancelled across Alberta to deal with the surge of patients from COVID-19's fourth wave, Alberta Health Services (AHS) says a temporary structure built specifically to address pandemic concerns in Calgary is at less than 50 per cent capacity.

AHS confirmed to CTV News on Thursday that the Sprung Pandemic Response Unit (PRU), which is located at the Peter Lougheed Centre in northeast Calgary, only has 24 of 56 "currently configured" spaces in use.

"The PRU at Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC) continues to operate as an extension of the PLC's emergency department, as it has done since opening in August 2020," said Kerry Williamson, executive director of issues management with AHS.

"The space treats patients of mid-level acuity presenting with a variety of symptoms/concerns, including those who screen positive for COVID-like symptoms and require assessment and treatment."

The PRU was built by Sprung Structures for approximately $2 million, however, during the first five months it was open, AHS confirmed that no patients exhibiting symptoms of the illness were ever treated there.

At that time, AHS said it was able to maintain patient demands in the Calgary zone because of "strong planning and actions taken to ensure surge capacity."

In the meantime, other PRUs have since been built, with one at South Health Campus (SHC) in Calgary and the other at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic (KEC).

Williamson says those two units will be used to help ensure traditional spaces inside the hospitals remain available to general inpatients, in the case of SHC, while the KEC could be used to treat some COVID-19 patients.

"Patients who are recovering from COVID-19 and are deemed to be at low risk of transmitting the virus and patients with less complex healthcare needs than those being cared for in traditional spaces would be treated at the PRU if that additional capacity is required."

According to the latest data from Alberta Health, 1,522 cases of COVID-19 were added over the past 24 hours.

There are 679 Albertans in hospital being treated for COVID-19 and 154 of those are in the ICU.

Nine more people have died from the virus, bringing Alberta's total number of fatalities connected to COVID-19 to 2,434.