Lives will be lost because AHS and the government failed to plan ahead
EDMONTON – Bed closures and other restrictions at Alberta health-care facilities are proof that the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have once again failed Albertans, says AUPE.
“We have heard that eight hospital beds have been closed in Grande Prairie Regional Hospital and that they are expected to remain closed until February 22,” says Sandra Azocar, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents 95,000 Alberta workers, including 55,000 in health care.
“That means the region will be short of beds for six weeks, which is bad news for people in the area needing care,” says Azocar.
An AHS email says the closure are “necessary to maintain safe current staff to patient ratios.” It adds: “There has been ongoing staffing challenges since March 2021 related to COVID demands, Connect Care, overall vacancies and recruitment challenges.”
This follows restrictions in emergency department and other health-care operations in many Alberta communities. You can see more details here.
“Front-line health-care workers have endured understaffing for years, long before COVID-19 arrived, but the pandemic has magnified the problems 1,000-fold,” says Azocar.
“The government and AHS have had nearly two years since the pandemic began to plan ahead but have failed to do so. We are seeing the results of this mismanagement and lack of leadership now,” she says.
“Instead of taking action, this government has abdicated its responsibilities and expected front-line workers to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, those workers are exhausted and at breaking point.”
Azocar adds: “This crisis in care is only going to get worse as the Omicron wave engulfs us. The government and AHS should have a plan. Albertans need to see what that plan is now. This lack of leadership will cost lives, not only for people with COVID-19 but for people whose life-saving treatments for cancer and other conditions is being delayed.”
She says: “We cannot miraculously produce front-line health-care workers out of nowhere and we cannot cure the ones who get sick any quicker. At this point, the only alternative is to stop the spread with a circuit breaker. That could have been avoided with earlier action from the government and AHS.”
AUPE VP Sandra Azocar is available for comment.
For more information, please contact communications officer Terry Inigo-Jones at email@example.com or 403-831-4394.