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Last Updated: December 6, 2021
AHS continues to do all it can to increase capacity in our healthcare system, particularly in our ICUs where pressure is unprecedented. We continue to add more capacity wherever and whenever we can to address the impact of COVID-19 Wave 4. We need everyone’s help in easing the pressure on our healthcare system. Get immunized as quickly as possible, follow the public health restrictions, and stay home if feeling unwell.
AHS continues to do all it can to ensure we have enough ICU capacity to meet patient demand.
With pressure easing slightly on our ICUs, we are reducing the available surge beds so that we can redeploy staff back to caring for non-COVID patients who need surgeries and procedures completed.
We will ensure that we maintain ICU capacity above daily demand to a planned maximum of 380 beds as long as staff and physician availability allows, and will readjust our plans as needed if COVID cases rise again.
We currently have 241 general adult ICU beds open in Alberta, including 68 additional spaces above our baseline of 173 general adult ICU beds. There are currently 182 patients in ICU.
Provincially, ICU capacity (including additional surge beds) is currently at 76 per cent. Without the additional surge spaces, provincial ICU capacity would be at 105 per cent.
Unplanned, temporary bed reductions are not unusual for AHS - or any other health system - as beds are managed based on patient need, staffing levels, and acuity of patient health, in addition to many other factors. The system is dynamic, and we manage beds on an hourly and daily basis. This page does not reflect shift by shift changes, rather planned, short-term closures. The availability of beds currently are affected as a result of increasing numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients. The intent of this webpage is to transparently show where there are planned closures.
Simultaneously, AHS is also working hard to increase the number of acute beds and ICU beds as part of the Wave 4 pandemic response.
The table below shows the historical annual occupancy of beds in all five zones since 2018. AHS uses this information to monitor, manage, and adjust the number of beds across the province based on factors like – seasonality, the availability of health care workers and other emerging issues.
Historical occupancy is important because many times a reduction in the number of beds does not directly impact on patients or a community because, even with a temporary reduction, there are more beds available than there are patients who need them.
The table shows that pre-COVID-19, 93% of beds were occupied in 2018 and 92% in 2019. In 2020 the total number of beds occupied by patients dropped to a low of 86% as the system purposely held beds to be able to respond to the needs of patients with COVID. The average number of beds occupied by patients in 2021 to date is 90%. Currently, 98% of acute care beds are in operation and 97.1% of emergency department spaces are in operation across the province.