Grande Prairie council writes health minister with concerns over local hospital shortages

A northern Alberta city wants to know what the government is doing to address health-care staff shortages that are closing beds not just locally, but across the province.

Grande Prairie city council on Tuesday sent a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro expressing concern about the delay of 45 elective surgeries at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital as well as the transfer of nine patients to other facilities.

The accommodations were made, Alberta Health Services said in separate announcements the previous week, because of an influx in COVID-19 patients requiring treatment and "unexpected staff vacancies."

Councillors wrote they were concerned about the immediate and long-term impacts of the shortages on their community, which will see a new and larger hospital open within months.

"Could the Minister provide our community with an update on the staffing challenges at the QEII hospital and what steps AHS is taking to address them?"

Grande Prairie city council letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro by CTV News Edmonton on Scribd

Council described the city of Grande Prairie as a "willing partner" that would work with the government as Alberta's fourth COVID-19 wave develops.

It was signed by Mayor Jackie Clayton and also sent to local MLA Tracy Allard, Finance Minister Travis Toews, and AHS board member Natalia Reiman.

In a statement to CTV News, Shandro's press secretary, Steve Buick, said the minister would give Clayton an update as soon as possible.

"Minister Shandro feels for patients who are having surgery postponed, and for staff who are working to ensure the safety of all patients, in Grande Prairie and across the province," Buick wrote.

"The pandemic remains a challenge for the coming weeks but in the longer term, the Minister is looking forward to significant enhancements in access to care in the new hospital, including new cancer care services and shorter wait times for surgery."

According to the latest data, Grande Prairie, with 480 active cases, was the second amongst Alberta cities and towns for rate of active cases per 100,000.