Due to the strain put on the health care system by COVID-19, the Drumheller Health Centre has cancelled all elective surgeries.
A couple of weeks ago, AHS announced they would be postponing scheduled surgeries. Facility Medical Director at the Drumheller Health Centre Dr. Michael Beach, told the Mail last Tuesday, surgeries in Drumheller were postponed.
“Emergency surgeries can still run, as can c-sections, but all our day-to-day elective surgeries are cancelled,” said Beach. “AHS has released an update regarding surgeries/OR protocol across the province. Last Monday they announced they were cancelling all surgeries, but there were still some debates as to whether some of the rural sites might still be able to maintain them.”
He said he was in the operating room last Tuesday, but that afternoon they completely shut down rural sites. The decision will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis.
The reason for the postponement is to help redeploy resources, and Beach says they have redeployed some nursing staff to other areas.
“The argument we made, along with other rural centres, to advocate for maintaining our services here, was generally speaking the nurses we have to have at hand for the purposes of being on call for emergency surgeries or c-sections, you can’t really redeploy those people anyway, they have to be around,” he said.
He explains COVID-19 has affected the Drumheller Health Centre.
“A big part of the reason for that is we have had multiple patients, even within the last week who end up being too sick to stay here, and are STARS-ed out. Once they meet a certain care need like needing a ventilator, we can’t care for them in Drumheller. If we had that ability, our ward would be full of COVID,” he said.
He adds the Drumheller Health Centre is receiving patients from other centres because they are able to take on the care level they need.
“Red Deer is unloading case volume on us as well,” he said. “There is some discussion on sites like Stettler and Drumheller potentially being respiratory care hubs if there is more capacity needed. Part of the reason for that is we do have some added skill sets here,” said Beach.
He says the best way to ease the stress on the system is to get vaccinated.
“If you have hesitations about it please contact one of the health care professionals at either of the clinics and make sure the information you are basing your decision on is accurate and correct,” he said. “Drumheller vaccination rates, while they are improving, we are still kind of in the 60-70 per cent range, which is certainly below the provincial average and continues to be problematic to us as a community. We continue to leave ourselves exposed and at risk.”