In this blog post the Alberta health crisis is examined, mitigation steps are explored, and air filtration experts summarize the importance of air purification in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in Canadian hospitals.
On September 15th, Albertans received news of the Public Health Emergency that brought along heightened COVID-19 restrictions. These restrictions include, but are not limited to, gathering limits and a new form of vaccine passport required to enter non-essential businesses. It is hoped that by following these guidelines and thereby avoiding overcapacity in hospitals, Alberta’s healthcare system will circumvent collapse1.
Not even one week after the introduction of these restrictions, bleak statistics have come to light: There are approximately 20,000 active COVID-19 cases, with almost 1000 people in hospital. It is undeniable that Alberta is facing a health crisis that must be addressed amid the province’s fourth wave of COVID-19.
What Are the Latest Developments Concerning the Healthcare System in Alberta?
The Premier of Alberta announced that at the current rate of infection, the province is set to run out of staffed ICU beds by September 25th. Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, corroborated this, stating that the fourth wave has resulted in the sharpest increase of ICU patients since the pandemic started. Healthcare workers must now locate patient care areas that can be used as an ICU bed, including observation spaces and operating rooms. The Alberta Children’s Hospital has even cut surgeries by 75% to handle the strain of sick COVID-19 patients2.
The COVID-19 crisis has become so severe that the Alberta provincial government is offering Albertans a one-time incentive of $100 for those who get their first or second dose between now and October 13th3. Furthermore, the leaders of the healthcare unions in the province have recently sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney saying that hospitals were no longer on the verge of collapse but were “actually collapsing in front of our eyes”. The union leaders have implored the Premier to request assistance from the Red Cross and Canadian Military, however requests have not been made as of yet4.
What Are the Next Steps to Curb the Rising COVID-19 Cases in Alberta?
There are several virus mitigation recommendations put forth by the Government of Alberta. Some of these recommendations include:
- Mandatory masking for students in grade 4 or up, plus staff and teachers in all grades
- Implementation of class cohorting in elementary schools
- Isolation requirement for people with COVID-19 symptoms or for those who have received a positive test
- Capacity restrictions to ⅓ fire code occupancy in malls and food courts
- Liquor consumption to end at 11:00PM
- For those who are fully vaccinated, indoor social gatherings are limited to 2 households, for a maximum of 10 vaccinated people
While these recommendations may help to prevent virus spread amongst Albertans, the recommendations for healthcare and congregate care settings have not been updated on Alberta’s official website since the Open for Summer Plan was launched. Those working in healthcare in Alberta must now search for guidance elsewhere. Fortunately, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has information on best practices for airborne virus mitigation in health care facilities.
What Does the CSA Say About Virus Mitigation?
The key document from the CSA is intended for use by “…health care facility staff to ensure the efficient planning, design, construction, and maintenance of HVAC systems” and specifies the parameters required for patient care areas to deliver adequate indoor air quality (IAQ).
One key section involves the extension of air change rate standards for clinical settings to address airborne infection risk prevention. This is relevant as COVID-19 is partly transmitted through aerosols, which cannot be captured by simply cleaning common surfaces or applying face masks. As such, hospital facility managers in Alberta should take care to apply proper air filtration devices to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, help reduce overall active cases, and subsequently alleviate the stress on Alberta’s healthcare system.
For more on the benefits of following CSA guidelines: How Does Following the CSA’s Air Filtration Guidelines Benefit Canadian Hospital Facility Managers?
What is the Importance of Air Purification in Canadian Hospitals?
Air filter installation can require a fair amount of time, labour, and is sometimes not feasible depending on a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system design. That being said, there are other ways to bring cleaner air into an indoor environment. Air purifiers are ideal for air handling units (AHUs) that cannot support high MERV rated filters or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, or for saving costs. We have two applicable units within our air purifier line: the City M Air Purifier and the CamCleaner CC500. Both air purifiers are equipped with a combination HEPA/gas removal filter, meaning they are effective in both particulate and molecule removal. These air purification units deliver a healthier indoor environment by removing dust, contaminants, and harmful virus particles. They also assist with odour control, reduce allergy suffering, and can be easily transported. The main difference lies in the space the units cover: the CamCleaner CC500 is most applicable to larger spaces
There are a variety of factors that determine which air filtration solutions will best protect your hospital facility. Be sure to contact an experienced commercial building air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
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