Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre. (File photo)

Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre. (File photo)

Ponoka doctor says fourth wave is here ‘in full force’

Local doctor warns wait times may be longer at the Ponoka hospital, asks for patience

The health care system across Alberta is being strained with the current COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations and Ponoka is not immune to the impacts.

The province announced a total of 18,265 active cases on Sept. 14, with 822 people in hospital, including 212 in intensive care.

As of Sept. 15, there are 68 active cases in east Ponoka County and 88 in west Ponoka County on the geospatial map, which includes parts of Lacombe County. In both areas combined, there have been a total of six COVID-19 related deaths.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw told doctors Monday. Sept. 13, that lifting all public health measures on July 1 was a mistake.

“Obviously, Alberta is in a significant crisis state right now,” Hinshaw said during the conference call.

“Delta has spread much more quickly and has had more severe outcomes than we anticipated.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s ‘Open For Summer’ plan was premature: chief medical officer of health

“The issue is that the fourth wave is here and we are seeing lots of pressure on the system,” said Dr. Gregory Sawisky of the Battle River Medical Clinic in Ponoka.

“From the local perspective, we are dealing with the ramifications of the fourth wave in full force right now,” he said.

“The bigger hospitals are approaching capacity and there are pressures on the system in terms of bed availability as well as ambulance availability. We are also seeing an increase in emergency room visits at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.”

Sawisky stressed that while care is still available at the clinic and the hospital, people need to be prepared for increased wait times at the hospital.

He added that people are seen according to the severity of their presentation. If your situation is not emergent, Sawisky says to contact your family doctor or call 811.

“And please spare a moment’s thought for the nurses and care aids working at the Ponoka hospital who have been working around the clock these past 18 months, missing vacations, working overtime and seeing first-hand the result of this pandemic,” he said.

“Superhero movies are really popular these days and we should all be reminded that there are superheroes in our own community and across the province and those are our nurses who are fighting every single day to keep our health care system going.”

Official opposition leader Rachel Notley called out the UCP’s handling of the pandemic in a statement on Sept. 14.

“At this moment when so many Albertans are suffering, so many are in danger, and so many have died, the Premier and his government are unforgivably silent, idle, and nowhere to be seen,” Notley said.

“We are slipping off the edge of a great cliff. Allowing COVID to continue to spread out of control through our province will be devastating.

Ponoka physicians are available by phone Monday through Friday. Dial 811 from any phone to speak to a HealthLink nurse.

READ MORE: Alberta reports 1,434 new COVID-19 cases, nine new deaths

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