UPDATED: Exclusive documents show the Alberta health-care system had fewer adult ICU beds one year into the COVID-19 pandemic than it did at the start of its declaration in March 2020. AHS says that beds have been reclassified, surge beds were added, and that was not accurately reflected in the numbers provided in freedom of information documents by AHS.
Government documents provided to Rebel News by the access filer show that adult intensive care bed numbers shrank under former health minister Tyler Shandro.
Pre-pandemic in March 2020, ICU capacity numbers indicate that 186 adult ICU beds existed across the province at a rate of 4.2 beds per 100,000 Albertans.
In 2021, adult ICU bed numbers show 173 beds province-wide at a rate of 3.8 per 100,000 Albertans.
Data from March 2019 shows 207 available ICU beds across the province; 2018 numbers reflect the same number of beds, once again at 207.
The same documents demonstrate that during the so-called second wave of COVID-19, Alberta was able to ramp up ICU capacity to 291 beds in January 2021, while Alberta had 130 ICU patients at the same time.
During the third wave, Alberta's ICU capacity reached a peak of 299 beds by May 24, 2021, while 161 patients occupied those ICU beds.
UPDATE: a statement provided to Rebel News by AHS Communications maintains that, despite the AHS numbers in the AHS FOIP documents, AHS has ramped up "surge capacity" and those beds are not included in the "baseline beds" count.
An email from Kerry Williamson from AHS notes:
"Almost all COVID admissions are handled in adult general ICUs, which have a normal funded base of 173 beds as shown in the chart for March 31, 2021.
AHS has added 203 surge spaces to those adult general ICUs, bringing the current total to 376 general adult ICU spaces available, in addition to the other types of ICU spaces shown.
That is the highest number of general adult ICU beds that we have ever had available in Alberta.
We have added surge ICU space during each of the four waves to ensure Albertans who need critical care, receive it.
For example, at the peak of the second wave in mid-February, we had a total of 291 general adult ICU beds, including 118 ICU surge spaces."
And, at the peak of the third wave in mid-May, we had a total of 295 general adult ICU beds, including 122 ICU surge spaces.
In terms of the discrepancy in total ICU bed numbers, at the beginning of wave one, AHS completed an in-depth review of all of our baseline ICU beds to ensure we had certainty of how many beds we had, and what type of beds they were.
We identified 10 beds that were incorrectly classified as ICU, and those were removed from the ICU total and reclassified as medical acute beds.
Through this work, we also added four ICU beds to our ICU baseline, bringing us to a total of 392.
Again, we did not reduce our bed compliment but corrected a classification error. The actual number of ICU beds stayed the same."
Read the documents for yourself: