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Provincial ICUs reach all time highs as province enters trauma season

Last Updated May 21, 2021 at 7:28 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – COVID-19 ICU patients are at all time highs in Alberta.

The province is also in so-called “trauma season,” which is when hospitals tend to see a wave of more complex patient injuries, which happen during warmer months.

“The May long weekend is coming up and we’re going to see other hospital stretchers. This is our trauma season,” explained Dr. Darren Markland, Intensive Care Physician at the 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 in Calgary, saw over 1,100 trauma patients in 2019.

Things like drunken ATV accidents, car crashes, and falls are the major causes. That’s why Markland urges extra caution as we get closer to summer fun.

Last summer, we saw growth in cases after every long weekend and very little 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, they know what they’re doing after three waves of this virus, but he says they 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,” added Markland.