New hospitalization, ICU numbers expected as Alberta hospitals face critical staffing shortages

The province is expected to release updated intensive care unit (ICU) and hospitalization numbers Tuesday afternoon as Alberta Health struggles to find staff to care for its sickest patients.

As of Friday, there were 118 COVID-19 patients in ICUs and 515 COVID-19-related  hospitalizations in Alberta.

Last week, the province saw roughly 1,300 new COVID-19 cases each day and the number of people requiring hospital care is expected to rise in the weeks to come.

Over the long weekend, the Alberta nurses union released a letter it received from the province saying Alberta Health Services was contracting three private companies to try to secure qualified nurses from out of province to allow hospitals to handle the influx of people.

In August, the United Nurses of Alberta said Greenstaff Medical offered to pay nurses it employs to work at AHS facilities $55 an hour for general acute care and up to $75 an hour for ICU and emergency department shifts, as well as weekend premiums, a housing allowance, and shift differentials. Union member nurses working for AHS are currently paid between $36.86 and $48.37 per hour.

This is a developing story. It will be updated throughout the day.