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New ICU beds will help respond to future waves, says Copping

In response to an announcement by the UCP government that they are adding more ICU beds, the opposition says Alberta can’t staff the hospital beds it already has.
MVT nurses ICU
A team of health-care workers set up a patient in a satellite ICU – in the space normally occupied by the Cardiac Care Unit – at the Peter Lougheed Centre. ICU bed capacity was strained during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Alberta Health Services Facebook

The addition of up to 50 new intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Alberta hospitals over the coming months will help ensure health-care capacity is not overwhelmed during future COVID-19 waves or other health emergencies, says Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping.

The official Opposition says Alberta can’t staff the hospital beds it already has due to the UCP government layoffs of thousands of front-line health-care workers.

Minister Copping said Wednesday, March 2 that the new ICU beds are being made possible by $100 million outlined in the province's 2022 budget. 

“While Alberta Health Services was able to add surge capacity when needed during the pandemic, this is not a sustainable or prudent way to plan for the future,” said Copping. “Adding up to 50 ICU beds this year alone, plus other ongoing efforts, will give Albertans better access to the health care they need.”

The new beds will be distributed across Alberta, with location details still being developed, he said.

Alberta Heath Services has been tasked with coming up with a plan on where the beds are needed and how to make them fully operational.

“These additional beds and staffing resources will help us continue to provide the excellent and timely care that all Albertans deserve,” said Dr. Verna You, the president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services.

David Shepherd is the NDP health critic.

“Thanks to the UPC’s mismanagement of health care, Alberta hospitals can’t staff the beds they already have,” said Shepherd. “There are 25 communities in Alberta where there are hospital beds closed and services cut right now due to the UCP’s health care staffing crisis.

“Any announcement or plan by the UCP to increase staffing in health care is incompatible with their ongoing layoff of 11,000 front-line health-care workers.”

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