Alberta Health Services says Red Deer hospital will not be left short-staffed because three virus-infected doctors had contact with 97 other health care workers. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer hospital staffing won’t suffer because 97 health workers had contact with infected doctors, says AHS

Many were wearing protective equipment

Red Deer hospital will not be left short-staffed because three doctors infected with COVID-19 had contact with 97 other health-care workers, says Alberta Health Services.

“As soon as these cases were confirmed, AHS took immediate action to trace and talk to all contacts of a confirmed or presumed case, as per protocol,” states an AHS spokeswoman.

While some of the contacted health care-workers are being required to self-isolate, she added many others had been wearing personal protective equipment that ensured no viral spread.

“Where contact occurred when both the (infected doctor) and the (health care) contact were wearing appropriate PPE, there is no risk of transmission…

“We are not short-staffed at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre due to self-isolation in connection with these confirmed cases,” states the AHS spokeswoman.

“Our contact tracing of these cases at this time indicates no further spread of COVD-19 related to these cases.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health for Alberta, said three Red Deer doctors were among the 12 medical staff who tested positive for COVID-19 following a curling bonspiel earlier this month in Edmonton.

AHS maintains it’s continuing to monitor staffing levels at Red Deer hospital and at other health-care facilities across the central zone as part of its pandemic response.

The public is being assured that proactive work was done in preparation of an anticipated surge in patients with COVID-19, as well as the impact from some staff being forced to self-isolate or stay home to look after children.

All scheduled and elective surgeries were postponed as a necessary step “to allow us to redeploy front-line staff, physicians and equipment to areas of greatest need,” said the spokeswoman.

AHS is ready to reduce other non-urgent, in-hospital services, if needed, to free up staffing capacity and limit the spread of infection “during these extraordinary times.”

Health care staff across Alberta are being credited for their “overwhelmingly positive response” in offering assistance in response to the COVID-19 efforts.

As part of the AHS contingency process, locum doctors and contracted health providers have been located and are willing to be parachuted in, if necessary.

This week, screening practices were implemented for all patients and visitors coming to Red Deer hospital. As well, all staff, physicians and contractors will go through a health screening at the hospital, other health-care sites and seniors’ continuing-care facilities.

Temperature checks are given as they enter and they are asked to complete a short questionnaire to assess health risk. Any employee deemed unfit for work will be asked to return home to self-isolate.

AHS is also implementing a process that could expedite the return to work of health-care workers who are self-isolating, but displaying no symptoms.

“This will only be done in exceptional and limited circumstances.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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