Alberta lacks ‘surge capacity’ in health care system because of past cuts

Kenney government needs to open more acute care and intensive care hospital beds – STAT!

EDMONTON – If something dramatic isn’t done very soon to expand the number of acute care and intensive care hospital beds in the province, Albertans are going to pay a steep price for decades of conservative health care cuts, says Alberta’s largest worker advocacy group.

“The provincial government needs to move now to open up new acute care beds for Albertans,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, “without quick action we could have unnecessary deaths because of a lack of resources and a lack of coordination in our healthcare system.”

Research compiled by the Alberta Federation of Labour shows that Alberta currently has less than half of the acute care hospital beds per thousand population than in 1989 – and less than the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in Italy, where the health care system is currently being overwhelmed by a surge of patients sickened by COVID-19. The most recent data shows Alberta currently has approximately 2 acute care beds per 1,000 people.

Research also shows that Alberta lacks critical medical equipment needed to deal with pandemics, such as COVID-19. There are currently 477 adult critical care ventilators, with another 50 currently on order, and 78 pediatric critical-care ventilators. Even with the 50 additional ventilators, Alberta only has 1 ventilator per 6,453 adults.

“Robust healthcare systems and coordinated government responses are going to be the key factors between countries that experience a high death rate and those that do not from COVID-19,” says McGowan, “A properly funded healthcare system is needed more than ever.”

Surge Capacity Backgrounder

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Gil McGowan
President, AFL
Email: gmcgowan@afl.org
Call: 780-218-9888