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Alberta reaching out to Red Cross, feds about possible field hospitals

Last Updated Dec 3, 2020 at 6:49 pm MDT

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The province has reportedly reached out to the federal government and the Red Cross about help getting a handle on the COVID-19 situation.

A report released Wednesday showed government officials are looking at the possibility of introducing field hospitals in the province.

Several intensive care units in Alberta have already had to start double-bunking patients because they’ve already passed the initial limit.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro was asked about the plan on Wednesday and said Alberta has had conversations with the federal government and the Red Cross to supply field hospitals but it’s not part of the government’s plan to increase its number of acute care and ICU beds in the coming weeks.

“There were officials who reached out to the Red Cross to be able to ask about a tent. Remember, there is already a tent that is installed in Calgary outside the Peter Lougheed Centre so they’ve begun conversations.,” he said.

RELATED: Alberta projects COVID hospitalizations could soon soar to 775, with 161 in ICU

“First of all, health officials, especially during a pandemic, are always planning for contingencies. It’s not included in our current plans to increase our acute care bed capacity to 2,250.”

Shandro added the government also has plans to increase intensive care beds to 425.

WATCH: More field hospitals could be coming to cope with COVID-19

Premier Jason Kenney said that while there is a significant stress on the healthcare system–and they do expect hospitalizations to go up–the province is still a long way away from the system becoming totally overwhelmed.

When asked if this potential need for field hospitals meant that the province had failed to manage the pandemic in the province, Kenney said no.

“I think it’s a sign of responsible planning on our part. In a system with 100 hospitals and 8500 beds where we can believe we can dedicate 2300 of those to COVID patients, we currently have a little over 500 patients.”

“While there are about 16 hospitals under significant stress right now and a lot of health care workers are exhausted, the reality is we have and can continue to create capacity.”

Just over 1,600 cases were reported on Wednesday with 504 people in hospital and 97 in the ICU. Alberta is currently dealing with 17,144 active cases of the coronavirus.