An Alberta Health Services official in Edmonton says he is concerned after another local hospital was added to the province’s COVID-19 outbreak list.

All of Edmonton’s hospitals now have COVID-19 outbreaks. The Grey Nuns is dealing with seven patients and two staff members who have been infected with the coronavirus.

“The incidents are rising and this does create challenges in maintaining our health system,” AHS Edmonton zone medical director Dr. Zygun told CTV News Edmonton. “Following the public health recommendations is so critical now.”

As healthcare workers are infected, staff shortages follow — a serious situation according to Dr. Zygun.

“I think it’s a significant concern,” he said.

“This has obviously been going on for months now and I think there’s a tremendous amount of fatigue among our staff and our physicians. As we have the outbreaks and many of our staff are put off on isolation while we await contact tracing… I think they feel a lot of pressure to go to work to help out with this response.”

Dr. Zygun was unable to quantify the current number of healthcare workers affected by the coronavirus, saying the situation is too fluid, but acknowledged that wait times are an issue.

“All of those wait times that we measure are challenged at this point in time as we manage flow,” he said.

Alberta has scaled back scheduled surgeries in the province in order to redirect resources to deal with the pandemic.

“I am very concerned about those wait lists as well,” said Dr. Zygun.

The Edmonton zone medical director says hospital occupancies are running between 95 and 100 per cent, with functional capacities that are close to 120 per cent.

As we enter into the traditional flu season, Dr. Zygun says he’s very concerned about those Edmonton hospital capacities.

“That often puts strain on the healthcare system,” he said. “So very concerned about how that will compare now that we’re layering on the Influenza season to the pandemic.”

According to Dr. Zygun, Edmonton hospitals do still have significant room to expand by redirecting staff from other areas.

“We avoided that in the first wave,” he said. “But it is certainly part of the plan if necessary.”

The medical director for the Edmonton Zone says, given what he’s seen in the community, he’s quite concerned that this plan will be needed.

“I’m concerned with gatherings that have occurred recently,” said Dr. Zygun. “That we might start to see those coming into hospital.”

He added that the next few days and weeks should be telling as to what effects events like Halloween will have on case numbers in and around the city. 

Edmonton’s medical director says time will tell as to when these hospital outbreaks clear up, but adds that people needing urgent medical attention should not hesitate to go to the Emergency Room.

“Our Emergency Rooms are safe and they are there for you.”