Prairie Post (West Edition)

ER doc pleads for vaccinatio­ns


The intensive care unit in Medicine Hat is operating over capacity with COVID patients taking up all beds, the head of emergency medicine said Sept. 1.

Dr. Paul Parks said that Medicine Hat Regional Hospital has 10 physical ICU beds, but currently only staffing resources for seven. This week it is treating between six and eight “COVID-related” cases as new infections of the respirator­y illness continue to be recorded in the city.

Parks applauded a move by Alberta Health Services to unilateral­ly mandate all staff be vaccinated, and he renewed his call for citizens to get vaccinated as “the best chance in this fight.”

“There are people out there thinking that our numbers were low in the past and we might get away with it this time, too,” he said. “It’s already impacting Medicine Hat and we’re early in the fourth wave.”

Active cases sat at 525 as of Sept. 1’s update, three fewer than the day before, but 43 new cases were added against 45 recoveries.

The figures also revealed a single death – the sixth in 11 days – to place the total death count in the city at 30.

Medicine Hat saw a steep increase in cases starting in late January and currently has four times as many active as the previous highs during both the winter 2020 and spring 2021 peaks.

Parks says that has brought rising hospitaliz­ations and more severe outcomes, especially among unvaccinat­ed patients, though some so-called breakthrou­gh infections can still occur.

“They are much more mild, shorter and less likely to (be) hospitaliz­ed,” said Parks. “It’s a pure numbers game.”

Alberta Health has repeatedly stated that cases among those with double vaccinatio­ns make up a small fraction of new positive diagnoses.

This week, AHS also made it mandatory for its employees to become vaccinated by Oct. 31, including other volunteers, frontline health workers at Covenant Health and lab facilitate­s. A final policy, which will include some exemptions, is still being developed.

Parks and nine other section heads at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital signed a letter last week asking AHS to make vaccinatio­ns required.

“It’s a very positive move and a difficult decision for AHS to make, especially in absence of (direction) from the provincial government,” he said.

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