Military nurses to begin work at Edmonton hospital as Alberta battles 4th wave of COVID-19

Canadian military nurses will begin work at the Royal Alexandra Hospital today to help alleviate pressure on a critical care unit overburdened with COVID-19 patients.

Nurses will help ease pressure on critical care units in Edmonton, military says

Canadian Armed Forces critical care nursing officers and a CAF senior nursing officer are in Edmonton to help Alberta Health Services battle COVID-19. (Alberta Health Services)

Canadian military nurses are set to begin working at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital to help alleviate pressure on a critical care unit overburdened with COVID-19 patients.

The Canadian Armed Forces says eight critical care nursing officers deployed from Ontario and Nova Scotia are to begin shifts at the downtown hospital as early as this afternoon.

"They are scheduled to conduct integration training with [Alberta Health Services] the morning of October 6 and will be scheduled to begin shifts later that afternoon upon completion," reads a statement from the Canadian Armed Forces. 

The military support is to be in place until the end of October.

Alberta requested assistance from the military last month as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions spiked.

One senior critical care nursing officer was the first to be deployed to the province on Monday to help health authorities determine where and how the other nursing officers would be integrated into the health-care system.

The nurses conducted an orientation session with AHS staff on Oct. 6, and will soon be providing care to critically ill patients. (Alberta Health Services)

Alberta is also working on an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador, which has also offered to send a medical team.

The Red Cross is planning to send up to 20 medical professionals, some with ICU experience, to Alberta as well.

Alberta health officials continue to scramble to find acute care space to accommodate critically ill patients, in an attempt to avoid the grim prospect of rationing care. 

Alberta reported 663 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 26 additional deaths. There were 1,094 patients in hospital with the disease on Tuesday, including 252 in intensive care.

As of Tuesday, ICU capacity was at 82 per cent. Without the use of additional surge spaces, provincial ICU capacity would be at 177 per cent, AHS said. 

New measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta also come into effect Wednesday, including a reduction in the outdoor gathering limit to 20 people from 200 and the resumption of public reporting of schools with at least two known infections.

During a news conference Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney also announced that Albertans 75 and older and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 65 and older can now book a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Canadian Armed Forces critical care nursing officers will work at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. (David Bajer/CBC)

With files from the Canadian Press