Loading articles...

Docs worried about maxed-out ICUs as Alberta heads into 'trauma season'

Last Updated May 21, 2021 at 6:21 am MDT

EDMONTON – In Alberta, there’s a record number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs, right as we head into the so-called “trauma season”, when hospitals tend to see a wave of more complex patient injuries which happen during warmer months.

And with an anticipated influx of people require emergency care, healthcare professionals are worried Alberta’s health system could quickly become overwhelmed.

“The may long weekend is coming up and we’re going to see other hospital stretchers. This is our trauma season,” said Dr. Darren Markland and ICU physicians at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“So, that puts a lot of pressure on more peripheral ICUs and hospitals. As we take more trauma patients, we may not be able to take as many COVID patients like we were before. Trauma patients are much more complex, require disciplinary care, stay in the ICU longer.”

Each zone in Alberta has its own trauma centres.

The Foothills Hospital–one of two trauma centres in Calgary–saw over 1,100 trauma patients in 2019. Things like drunken ATV accidents, car crashes, and falls are the major causes.

Last summer, we saw growth in cases after every long weekend and very few restrictions, so this colder weather and the current health measures may be a saving grace for the hospital system.

Markland says this third wave has been different in the hospitals–younger patients mean they’re coming through faster, and there’s that extra optimism because of vaccination rates.

Staff are also more prepared. He says they know what they’re doing after three waves of this virus, but he says healthcare providers anticipate a fourth wave that will be completely different.

“The fourth wave is going to be comprised of chronic health issues, abuse, substance, mental health. The system itself is going to be strained for a long time after we get over the virus,” he said.