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'Temporary' reductions continue at area hospitals

A St. Paul doctor has confirmed the majority of COVID-positive cases being treated locally are unvaccinated patients.
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LAKELAND - Three Lakeland communities are still showing temporary bed reductions at health care facilities following another end-date extension.

In St. Paul, 10 out of 42 acute care beds have been closed for a number of months. Originally, the end date was set at Aug. 31, then was bumped to Sept. 30. Now, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Facilities Temporary Bed/Space Reductions map shows an end date of Oct. 31.

Dr. Francis Adebayo, the community medical director for St. Paul says there have been improvements made in the bed situation, "but (the) staff situation has not really improved." 

Lakeland This Week reached out to Alberta Health Services for clarification and an update on the temporary closures in St. Paul and across the Lakeland. An AHS representative was looking into the situation, but a response still had not been received as of Oct. 14.

When asked about the current situation in regards to the high number of COVID cases in the area last week, Adebayo said "Presently as of today, we can admit patients to the hospital but patients will be swabbed for COVID prior to admission."

He confirmed that COVID-positive patients have been airlifted from the local hospital, and "95 per cent are not vaccinated." Similar statistics apply for COVID hospital admissions locally, with more than 90 per cent of patients not being vaccinated.

"Hence, we will encourage people to go get vaccinated," says Adebayo. "This only tell us one thing - that the vaccine is protective."

According to the provincial map showing active COVID-19 cases, the County of St. Paul region has 197 active cases, as of the last available update.

Not far to the east, the community of Elk Point continues to experience a reduction in services at its Emergency Department.

While the AHS map states the reason is due to no on-site physician coverage, information from the Comfort Clinic in Elk Point states the issue is now due to a nursing shortage. 

"This is not a unique situation to Elk Point and management is working on this. We hope to have this rectified soon," according to the clinic, last week.

At the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre, five of the 24 acute care beds remain closed, with an end date set at Oct. 31, according to the AHS map.

The reasons shown for closures at the St. Paul Healthcare Centre and the hospital in Cold Lake are attributed to "Temporary staff shortage due to vacation, vacancies, ongoing recruitment."

At the William J. Cadzow - Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre, eight of its 23 acute care beds had been closed for the same reasons noted for St. Paul and Cold Lake, but appear to have been reopened, according to the provincial map.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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