Calgary

AHS hiring for contact tracing and testing to deal with backlogs, rising demand

As the system struggles with delays and backlogs and demand grows amidst schools reopening, Alberta Health Services is looking for dozens of new employees to help with COVID-19 contact tracing and testing. 

Hundreds have been added to the contact tracing team since the summer

AHS posted for 50 positions related to testing and tracing as it struggles with backlogs and increased demand. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

As the system struggles with delays and backlogs and demand grows amidst schools reopening, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is looking for dozens of new employees to help with COVID-19 contact tracing and testing. 

A cursory search earlier this week showed 19 AHS job postings online — for more than 50 positions related to testing and tracing.

AHS says its added more than 500 staff to its contact tracing team alone since mid July, and more than 200 are currently in training and set to start by the end of the month.

It did not say how many more health care workers it needs to hire for COVID-19 testing and declined an interview. 

Backlogs need to be addressed, doctor says

Calgary family physician Dr. Amy Tan says some of her COVID-19 patients have been impacted by delays.

"In at least least two cases in the last month, there has not been contact tracing well past the week mark of them being positive," she said. 

"So that was concerning to hear that potentially, people who were in contact with them were not being notified."

Tan says the backlogs need to be addressed in order to curb any outbreaks in schools.

"AHS is running a bit behind and they're playing catch up, but there's really no way they could actually predict what their resource requirements would actually be," said John Church, a University of Alberta health policy expert.

AHS says people can wait up to five days for COVID-19 tests, and up to seven days for results.

On Thursday, it announced people can sign up to get their results, whether positive or negative, through a text message or automated phone call.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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