A group of 1,600 Edmonton doctors scolded the Alberta government over its handling of COVID-19 Thursday, about an hour before the province announced a first presumptive case.
The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (EZMSA) sent media a press release at 3:38 p.m., saying the governments "lack of readiness" was "putting Albertans at risk."
At 4:47 p.m. the Alberta government announced a woman in her 50’s from the Calgary area likely has the virus.
"We’re being forced into the frontline without being engaged in the process, without being engaged in the planning. They’re not helping us get the equipment we need to provide the care we need to provide to our patients," Dr. Don Wilson, with EZMSA said.
"We need masks too. We need face shields, we need eye protection, and hand protection. And it has suddenly become extremely difficult to get this for ourselves and for our staff."
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw was asked about the doctors' concerns during her press conference at the Legislature Thursday.
"I was concerned to see that message," Hinshaw said.
She said the government was taking “immediate public health action” to deal with COVID-19, adding that Alberta Health Services posted a new "frequently asked questions" section for doctors Thursday.
"Clearly we need to ramp up our efforts and we will continue to do so and work closely with partners to get that message out," Hinshaw said.
Since EZMSA went public with their concerns, Dr. Wilson says Alberta Health Services had reached out in an effort to address them.
But Wilson believes he and his colleagues still don’t have all the answers they need.
"We hear that there are high-level discussions and there are emergency plans, but we really don’t know what those are," Dr. Wilson said.
Despite the first presumptive coronavirus case in Alberta, Hinshaw said "the risk of catching the virus is still considered low in our province."