AHS explains COVID issues

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County heard a clear message from Alberta Health Services [AHS] about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our priority is to have good communications with communities, municipalities and stakeholders,” says Gregory Cummings, chief zone officer for the AHS north zone.

“We need all the support we can to keep the public informed.”

He spoke to Big Lakes County council at its meeting April 22.

“Hopefully, this will go away soon, so we can get back to our regular lives,” Reeve Richard Simard says.

Moving forward, AHS is responding to the many issues, concerns and questions raised during the pandemic.

“Over the long term, there will be a lot of lessons learned for the future,” Cummings says.

“We are interested in feedback from communities and stakeholders.”

Cummings says it’s been a challenge to respond to COVID-19 that has many unknowns and issues.

“It’s a brand new virus, it changes every day,” Cummings says.

He says northern and rural areas like High Prairie have adequate medical resources to respond to COVID-19.

“We’re not yet going to do testing in small communities to preserve confidentiality,” Cummings says.

He notes most people in small communities know each other.

“Everyone in rural communities has access for testing,” Cummings says.

“You have better access than many rural parts of the province.”

Testing has expanded, people can phone 811, he says.

AHS is assuring residents that healthcare services at the High Prairie Health Complex are being provided as they were before the pandemic started.

“We have taken measures to ensure we have adequate staff at facilities,” Cummings says.

Medical workers from other parts of Alberta and Canada are coming into the region to work at hospitals, he notes.

Protective masks are another top priority for AHS.

“We are on top to make sure we have an adequate supply,” Cummings says.

“We believe we’re in a reasonably good position.”

Councillor Ann Stewart suggests everyone wear masks.

However, Cummings says not all masks are the same and some are not as effective to protect people.

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