Elective surgeries cancelled in Calgary, Fort Macleod emergency room closed as COVID-19 surge continues

Alberta Health Services announced late Wednesday afternoon that it's cancelling elective surgeries and many other outpatient procedures for the rest of the week at its Calgary hospitals.

The action comes as a result of a need to reassign staff due to ever more crowded ICUs due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Alberta.

"This move will allow AHS to deploy qualified staff to support intensive care and critical care beds within the (Calgary) Zone," said AHS spokesperson James Wood in an email to CTV.

"Today, there are 95 ICU beds operating in Calgary," he added, "which is 29 more than our usual total of ICU beds (66)."

Impacted patients will be contacted and their procedures rescheduled to a later date.

"AHS will continue with all urgent and emergent procedures, as well as prioritized cancer surgeries," the statement added.

The announcement came hours after a tweet from AHS South Zone announcing that due to a physician shortage, the Fort MacLeod Medical Centre Emergency Department will be temporarily closed from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday.

Due to a lack of physician coverage, the Fort Macleod Health Centre Emergency Department will be temporarily closed from 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 to 8 a.m. Friday Sept. 10.

— AHS South Zone (@AHS_SouthZone) September 8, 2021

AHS said a small number of non-prioritized surgeries will be cancelled. The department said it's working closely with oncologists and cancer teams to evaluate every patient's unique situation.

Decisions on other surgery postponements will be made in the coming weeks as the situation evolves.

"As we said last week, this situation is serious," the AHS statement continued, "and we would like to remind all Albertans that we need their help in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in the community, which in turn will reduce strain on the healthcare system."

AHS said 89 per cent of the 147 patients in the ICU are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.