Seasonal illnesses placing pressure on hospitals, care centres

Albertans asked to help ensure care available for those who most need it

Seasonal illnesses placing pressure on hospitals

EDMONTON / CALGARY– Hospitals in Alberta Health Services’ Edmonton and Calgary Zones are experiencing capacity pressures, in part due to seasonal influenza-like and gastro-intestinal-type illnesses circulating in the community. In addition to the measures underway below, Albertans can assist by ensuring they have received their influenza immunization and know their care options. Emergency Departments are one of several options.

Alberta Health Services is taking steps to ease this temporary pressure on capacity, including:

  • providing additional Home Care resources to facilitate discharge;
  • prioritizing placement to Continuing Care sites for hospitals that are most affected;
  • repatriating medically stable out-of-province patients to their home provinces;
  • opening temporary bed capacity where possible.

“We are doing all we can to ensure Albertans continue to have access to the health care they need,” said Dr. Francois Belanger, Senior Vice President and Medical Director, Calgary Zone.

Currently, hospital occupancy at Calgary and Edmonton’s major hospitals is above 100 per cent. Occupancy is well over 100 per cent on medicine units, which account for most patients.

In both Edmonton and Calgary, AHS currently has numerous illness outbreaks in continuing care facilities and on a few wards. This greatly limits flexibility in managing hospital inpatient capacity.

It is important for Albertans to play a role in protecting themselves from illness, preventing the spread of illness, and preserving emergency and acute care for those who need it most.

Some health and medical needs – including the management of many seasonal illnesses – can be best met in a place other than a hospital Emergency Department.

In addition to family doctors, walk-in clinics, urgent care centres, Primary Care Networks and Family Care Clinics, most cases of influenza-like illnesses can be managed at home, through self care.

Staying home when sick, getting plenty of rest, and maintaining fluid intake to prevent dehydration, are not only sufficient self-care measures for many cases, they are measures that reduce the risk of spreading illness to others, and reduce the pressure on the health care system.

Moving non-emergent visits into the community frees considerable resources in Emergency Departments for Albertans who most urgently require those services.

“Emergency Departments will never turn away those who need treatment,” said Dr. William Dickout, Medical Director, Edmonton Zone. “We are looking to Albertans to educate themselves on the options available for their care to ensure they get the care they need quickly, and also to help reduce the pressures on our EDs during this season.”

If you are unsure of your treatment options, call Health Link Alberta for advice on seeking appropriate medical care or visit

If you, or anyone in your household, are experiencing illness, AHS asks that you refrain from visiting family and friends in hospitals, care facilities or seniors’ lodges. By simply staying home and taking care of yourself, you help ease the pressure on Emergency Departments.

Influenza immunization is another way you can protect yourself, your family and your community. The influenza vaccine is still available, free of charge, to all Albertans six months of age and older. For clinic locations and details, call Health Link Alberta, or visit

AHS also has an app for locating health care centres near you. Visit to download to your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.8 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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