Physicians and frontline health-care workers virtually meet to discuss Alberta Critical Care Triage Framework

A meeting to discuss a pandemic triage plan, if the province’s ICUs were to get overwhelmed, was held online Friday with health experts stressing that the province is nowhere close to implementing it.

The objective of the meeting was to discuss a framework in the event demand for critical care should surpass resources.

There are now 152 patients in the ICU in Alberta’s hospitals, meaning the province has now surpassed the peak it reached during the second wave.

Premier Jason Kenney maintains the health-care system still has the capacity to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Jay Chowdhury was hospitalized for COVID-19 a year ago and says he is thankful there was a bed for him.

“I walked into the hospital as I’m talking to you and I walked in and it just took a flick of a second to be sick and at the dying state so if there was no ICU bed or doctors and nurses there at that point I don’t think there would be any hope,” said Chowdhury.

The province has the capacity to fully staff 425 ICU beds. During the meeting it was revealed that when a high percentage of those beds are filled, a triage approach will be implemented in two phases.

If 90 per cent of the beds are filled, and a patient with a very serious medical condition only has a 20 per cent chance to live one year, they won’t get critical care. And if 95 per cent of the ICU beds are filled, the threshold is even higher.

A very ill patient with only a 50 per cent chance of surviving for one year will not qualify for a bed.

Chowdhury says it is concerning that a new triage plan is being discussed, but he says it’s better to plan ahead.

“I think they definitely should be proactive,” he said.

“They’re doing as much as possible but as the same time we need to see beyond ahead of us.”

It was highlighted that the timing of the meeting is not in correlation to the stressful circumstance the province is experience right now in it’s fight against COVID-19. The meeting was a culmination of a year’s worth of work.