The province announced up to $ 36 million in funding that would go toward increasing Alberta’s healthcare capacity on Thursday. That money will go to increase salaries for health care assistants and expand the capacity of the workforce to support home care and short-term continuing care facilities.

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“Definitely disappointed,” said Dr. Paul Parks, an emergency physician at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. “I and many of my colleagues are concerned that it is not close enough.”

Parks finished a double nights shift on Friday morning. The majority of his patients are COVID-19 positive and most are not vaccinated. He added that Thursday’s announcement is a medium to long-term solution. But right now, we need some quick ones.

Click to play video: '' It frustrates me that we had to '- Alberta Health Minister Defends COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive' ' ‘It frustrates me that we had to’: Alberta health minister defends COVID-19 vaccine incentive
‘It frustrates me that we had to’: Alberta health minister defends COVID-19 vaccine incentive

“It is demoralizing to know that we could do more to prevent the spread. If more people wore masks, if we limited large congregations … whether it be weddings, churches or large events. “

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Vaccine passports have been a hot topic of conversation in the province. Prime Minister Jason Kenney has previously said Alberta wouldn’t make a move like that, but doctors and official NDP opposition continue to voice their concerns.

“We need vaccine passports. We need you yesterday, ”said Shannon Phillips, Lethbridge-West MLA.

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Phillips held a press conference on Friday. He also added that the province needs to focus on the southern zone, where in some parts, vaccination numbers stay low. First dose vaccination rates in some areas are below 40% and complete vaccination rates are even lower.

“We need to find ways to reach some of these people who may still have very legitimate questions, who are decent people and just need a public health message to get through.”

An AHS statement on Friday said that in the South Zone, there are currently 23 ICU beds, including six additional ICU spaces. Right now, it is operating at 100% capacity. Of the 23 ICU patients, 20 are COVID positive.

“COVID-19 patients really complicate our care in the emergency department and in the hospital because of things like infection control and all the resources it takes to care for them when they are really sick,” Parks said.

It is an effect that is felt throughout the province. Medical Director of Health Deena Hinshaw tweeted on Friday that there are 686 people in the hospital due to COVID-19. Of the 517 patients who are not in the ICU, 74.1% are not vaccinated or are partially vaccinated, and of the 169 in the ICU, 91.2% are not vaccinated or are partially vaccinated.

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Figures updated Friday show that 78.9 percent of Alberta’s eligible population has received a dose and 70.9 percent are fully vaccinated.

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“We need more and more people to get vaccinated,” Parks said. “The number of unvaccinated people is just overwhelming us, increasing the spread and making it much more difficult for everyone across the province.”

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“A great jewel of a healthcare system, a pride of Canadians, is essentially on the brink of crisis and collapse due to the pressure that unvaccinated people have put on the healthcare system,” Phillips said.

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Despite mounting pressure on the health care system, Parks is adamant on one thing: If you are sick and need emergency care, come in and get treatment.

“The front-line workers are working very hard and trying very hard. But on the other hand, we need your help. We need the government to act and then we need everyone else to wear their masks, wash their hands, and stay away from the big gatherings. And lastly, most importantly, get vaccinated. “

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