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Commentary: Alberta at critical crossroad

Calls for premier's resignation grow as hospitals prepared to initiate triage protocols
opinion

With the UCP government declaring a state of public health emergency in response to the recent steep increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions, the search for those to blame for the critical situation is well underway.

Immediately after Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw announced the new measures, calls for all three officials to be fired went out across social media.

Whether the premier in particular will heed calls to give up his office remains an open question. What is known is that with Alberta’s emergency care system now at the point of crisis, residents in every community are at significant risk should they become ill or injured.

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CAO of Alberta Health Services, said doctors and others are now being prepared to implement triage protocols, which if instituted would see those dedicated health-care providers having to decide who lives and who dies if critical care is no longer available for all patients.

“Our health care system continues to experience severe capacity challenges,” Yiu said. “We are taking further steps to educate our clinic teams on our critical care triage protocol. We are doing this because the number of patients needing ICU care continues to rise rapidly and we need to be prepared.

“This protocol has been developed as a planned and pre-determined province-wide approach to guide our response should the demand for life-sustaining critical care support become greater than the available resources. It would be an absolute last resort.”

If activated, the triage would be applicable to all hospitals in Alberta, she said.

That Alberta has come to the point where critical care teams are being prepared to make life and death decisions under the triage protocol is shocking, alarming and tragic.

As such, area residents are encouraged to follow the new public health measures so that the need to activate the protocol will not arise, or if it is, it will be short lived.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.


Dan Singleton

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