As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, AHS is adjusting our response measures and supports. We continue to ensure we have the capacity to handle the anticipated surge in patients related to COVID-19.
Decisions have been made while ensuring AHS has the staff, equipment (including personal protective equipment) and beds available for any changes which may result in increased demand on our healthcare system caused by COVID-19.
We recognize that these are difficult, stressful times and that any change in service may be concerning. Our number one priority is protecting the health of Albertans, and in this extraordinary situation, we must take significant steps to do so.
Edmonton Zone Update
COVID-19 activity is continuing to increase in Edmonton and the surrounding area and this is impacting system capacity.
On October 23, 2020, Edmonton Zone postponed approximately 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries, adjusting ambulatory visits as required and accessing support from other Zones if needed. Urgent, emergent and cancer surgeries continued.
On December 8, 2020 Edmonton Zone announced additional temporary measures include postponing as much as 60 per cent of scheduled surgeries that require a hospital stay, and reducing ambulatory visits as required. We will maintain emergent, urgent access and prioritized cancer surgeries with all activity fitting within the assigned surge plan bed base.
Taking these additional measures provide additional system capacity and enable the continued provision of safe patient care
Resumption of Diagnostic Imaging and Ambulatory Clinic Services
- During the early part of the pandemic, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Covenant Health temporarily a reduction in “in person” patients seen in Diagnostic Imaging (DI) and Ambulatory Clinic services across the zones by up to approximately 60 per cent with a commensurate increase in virtual visits.
- To ensure we maintain adequate resources over and above the requirements for COVID-19, we continue to conduct weekly assessments of the service resumption plans and adapt as required.
- We will maintain all current COVID-19 public health orders and infection prevention and control standards and processes, including physical distancing, continuous masking and visitor guidelines.
- Patients attending a scheduled appointment will receive a pre-screening phone call to assess fitness to attend appointments and will be given instruction for attendance based on provincial public health guidelines. In cases where patients cannot be reached, they will be screened upon arrival for their appointments. Patients attending appointments for Ambulatory Care or DI will also need to follow the AHS visitor guidelines.
- At all times we will continue to reserve sufficient capacity to respond to the pandemic.
Surgical Recovery Plan
- AHS is currently operating at 88 per cent of pre-COVID-19 surgical activity and will increase this activity as part of a Surgical Recovery Plan developed and aligned with the Alberta Surgical Initiative (ASI).
- AHS postponed all non-urgent, scheduled surgeries in March to free up hospital beds in advance of an expected surge in patients with COVID-19. Some of these postponed activities resumed in May.
- We are grateful for the patience of those Albertans who had their surgeries and procedures delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It was a necessary step to ensure our healthcare system was prepared for COVID-19.
- Working in partnership with Alberta Health with this Surgical Recovery Plan, we are ensuring patients and families receive the surgery they need, when they need it, according to best practices and target benchmarks.
- The plan can be adjusted, as necessary, to help the health system respond to potential increased health system demand caused by COVID-19.
- Safety is the utmost priority and increases in surgery activity will happen providing it is safe and appropriate to do so.
- We will continue to ensure emergent and urgent surgeries are maintained while steadily increasing the number of surgeries, balancing the safety of patients and staff with the need to resume surgeries for Albertans waiting for care.
- Decisions on which surgeries proceed are based on clinical need and those being most in need and waiting longest being booked first. These decisions are being made at the zone level, and are also informed by the pandemic response in different parts of the province.
- Patients will be contacted directly when it is time to receive their surgery.
- We will maintain all current COVID-19 public health orders and infection prevention and control standards and processes, including physical distancing and visitor guidelines.
- We understand that many of you will be anxious to hear from AHS on your surgery or procedure. We ask for your patience. Please do not call 811 or the clinic for information. You will be contacted by AHS.
Changes to Lab Services During COVID-19
We are working hard to deploy our laboratory resources in the safest and most efficient way possible as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) and DynaLIFE Medical Labs have implemented changes in order to meet Public Health guidelines while providing high-quality laboratory services for all Albertans.
Extra safety precautions, combined with challenges maintaining appropriate staffing levels, have resulted in longer than normal wait times for lab service in many communities. Please read the following information to ensure you access necessary lab testing as quickly as possible, and that you are prepared for your visit to the lab:
- Patients are strongly encouraged to book appointments for lab work. This assists us to better manage the flow of patients and help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Important Reminder: If you are unable to attend your appointment for any reason, please ensure you cancel it so that it will be available for others who require lab services.
- Because the wait time for appointments is longer than we would like, many labs also provide same-day service for walk-in patients. View available laboratory locations, hours and walk-in service hours.
- Immunocompromised patients and those requiring urgent testing should phone the province-wide Patient Appointment Line: 1-877-868-6848 for assistance.
- New safety processes are in place to help protect our clients and staff as we help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Read more about Collection Site Safety.
We strive to ensure our labs and patient service centres are always safe places for everyone. Please be respectful and follow the directions of our staff, as they are there to help you receive the healthcare service you need.