Edmonton's neonatal intensive care units have been so overcrowded in the last two months they've been forced to send their newborn patients to hospitals across the province.

"If we don't have enough beds to really be able to look after our patients safely ... that's our challenge," said Dr. Verna Yiu, executive vice president and chief medical Officer with Alberta Health Services. "This does happpen. It doesn't happen a lot, but when it happens we take it really seriously."

Since the beginning of January, 10 babies who would have been cared for in Edmonton were transferred to intensive care units in other cities in Alberta.

The transfer is protocol when hospitals reach capacity, Yiu said.

"We're not happy about this, but understanding that we just ... that patient safety in number one."

Families are helped with transportation and accommodation, AHS officials said.

Edmonton neonatal ICUs are no longer at capacity, officials said.
 

With files from CBC's Scott Stevenson