A physician who has served the Black Diamond-Turner Valley community for more than 25 years wants to assure residents their hospital is a safe and important place to come when medical attention is needed.
“We don’t want people fearful of coming to the hospital,” said Dr. Noel Grisdale. “We have heard the rumours in the community that they think the hospital has had an outbreak and so they are scared to come.
“That could cause more harm by delaying care. I want them to have confidence in our approaches to infection control and to protecting patients in both emerg and the hospital… I can’t reiterate enough people don’t need to be afraid to come to the hospital whether it be for lab, x-ray or for care.”
Grisdale said while there has been pressure at the hospital due to COVD-19 – staff having to self-isolate for example – and at present it has all of its beds available.
“At one time we did have to reduce the number of beds available for admitting patients because of staffing issues and we got through that,” he said. “We are back up to our full complement of 17 beds where we are able to admit and care for people."
The hospital, which also has a 24/7 emergency room, was down to 10 beds for acute care at one time.
There are also 30 beds at Rising Sun long-term care at the hospital
Grisdale said he is not aware of there being any cases at Rising Sun.
If patients do come with COVID-19 symptoms, they are not turned away. They are triaged, they are separated in the emergency room and they may be swabbed for a test.
“You never know, is it COVID or is it a bad cold, the flu?" Grisdale said. “We care for them like we would any other patient."
In the past month, COVID cases have increased in Calgary, which may put added pressure on smaller centres. Grisdale said it is imperative that residents follow the protocols from washing hands to no social gathering to bend the curve and to lessen the impact on hospitals.
“We often need to rely on them (Calgary hospitals) to get our patients who are critically ill into their beds for higher level of care,” Grisdale said. “We don’t know will the staff in the city be rested and sharp as they usually are to take care of the patients we send in.
“They (staff) are always professional but they are human beings. If they are burned out that can impact the quality of care our patients will receive…
"We don’t want to be told: ‘look we don’t have room for an ICU for your patient. You are going to have to try and manage them in Black Diamond.’”
He stressed that has not happened at this time although patients have had to wait in emergency at Calgary for a bed to open in the past.
“Sometimes we will manage them (patients) longer in our hospital until we can find a bed,” Grisdale said. “Thankfully at this point, we have not had them say: We do not have room for your patient.’”
Grisdale, who has a practice in Black Diamond as well as his work at Oilfields Hospital, said COVID has been hard on him – just like it has on all Albertans.
“I am no different than anyone else in the province dealing with COVID fatigue,” said Grisdale, adding he tries to go with the flow as much as possible.
“Our fear is if we got too many of our physician colleagues either isolating or were sick then fatigue levels will really rise.
“We’ve avoided that here to a great degree.”
He said strategies are in place if that occurs in the area.