A new wing of the Stollery Children's Hospital will be used for adult emergency patient overflow, as hospitals in the Edmonton health zone struggle with Omicron variant surges.
A memo sent to Stollery staff said the newly renovated day ward space will be converted due to "high patient volumes and pressures experienced in the Emergency department."
The move is consistent with the its pandemic plan. The ward is also close to the existing emergency room, which is "crucial" for safe patient care, said the memo — a copy of which was shared on social media by Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
The reallocation of space will result in the Stollery hospital maintaining its seven operating rooms, as opposed to expanding to eight operating rooms next month as originally planned, the memo said.
If the demand for pediatric surgeries increases, then the plan will be revised, it added.
Alberta Health Services confirmed the situation.
It will not result in a reduction in surgeries, because the day ward space wasn't yet being used for pediatric surgical patients, an AHS spokesperson said.
But "a small number" of scheduled surgeries that were booked in the new operating room in February will be rescheduled, they added.
There are more people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta than ever before — though fewer patients receiving intensive care compared to the peak of the fourth wave.
As of Friday, there were 1,191 people in hospital, including 107 patients in ICU, provincial data shows.
In the last seven days, 58.8 per cent of non-ICU patients were in hospital primarily to be treated for COVID-19 infection, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw via social media Friday.
The remaining 41.2 per cent of patients either had COVID-19 but were not admitted to hospital to be treated for the illness, or it wasn't possible to determine, she said.
About 70.4 per cent of new ICU patients were being admitted primarily for COVID treatment, Hinshaw said.