AHS postpones some surgeries, ambulatory care in Edmonton zone as COVID-19 cases rise

Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw announces new measures in the Edmonton zone that includes Alberta Health Services postponing non-urgent surgeries.

As Alberta added another 427 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, Alberta Health Services made the decision to postpone some surgeries in the Edmonton zone.

In an email to Global News, AHS said about 30 per cent of all non-urgent surgeries are affected.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the announcement during her update on the novel coronavirus situation in the province.

“As a result in this rise in cases and the need for current and future hospital beds, Edmonton zone is activating new surge capacity measures in order to support safe patient flow through the hospitals in the area,” the chief medical officer of health said.

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AHS has made the decision to postpone non-urgent surgeries as well as some ambulatory care — also known as outpatient care — visits in the Edmonton zone.

Urgent, emergent and cancer surgeries will continue, Hinshaw said.

The decision was made in response to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the zone and for the “need for current and future hospital beds,” according to Hinshaw.

“AHS is taking these measures to ensure we are able to provide care to those who most need it.”

AHS will reschedule the postponed cases as soon as possible, though Hinshaw didn’t say when that could be.

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The health authority said about 600 surgeries per week will be postponed.

“When we resumed all surgical services provincially in mid-May, there were about 77,000 patients that were waiting for surgeries,” AHS said. “There are currently 73,000 patients waiting for surgery, provincially. We are currently at 88 per cent of pre-COVID-19 surgical capacity.

“AHS Edmonton zone remains committed to meeting surgical targets for the year and will reschedule surgical cases as soon as possible.”

Cases have been rising across the province over the last few weeks, but cases especially surged in the Edmonton zone.

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Two weeks ago, Hinshaw introduced new voluntary public health guidelines for the zone.

As of Thursday, there were 3,519 active cases in Alberta; 1,718 of them were in the Edmonton zone.

–With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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