A Calgary facility that offers respite and end-of-life care to children is set to reopen after a surge in patients at the nearby pediatric hospital saw its staff redeployed for more than a month. The South Health Campus adult acute care hospital in Calgary is seen on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Respite care staff to return to Calgary facility after helping at children’s hospital

A Calgary facility that offers respite and end-of-life care to children is set to reopen after staff were redeployed for more than a month to help with a surge in patients at the nearby pediatric hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Macpherson, facility medical director at Alberta Children’s Hospital, said Rotary Flames House will begin to accept patients as soon as possible.

“We expect to resume full operations this coming week and, even as early as today, we are hoping to be able to admit our first patient back to Rotary Flames and we may even be able to take a couple more children over the weekend,” she said during a news conference Friday. “So this is a really positive turn of events for us.”

Alberta Health Services, which delivers health care in the province, closed the facility in early December and sent its 20 full-time staff to help at Alberta Children’s Hospital. No respite care was available for children during that time, but patients who needed palliative care were treated at the hospital.

Children’s hospitals across Canada have seen a surge in patients in recent months, including those affected by COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Health officials said the need for additional patient beds and services in Calgary has been trending downward.

“We have seen a gradual decline in the number of admissions that we are seeing to our hospital,” said Macpherson.

“Currently, we’re sitting at below 100 per cent occupancy, and this gives us the capacity to be able to take those admissions and put them in the regular parts of our hospital instead of the surge beds that we had to open during the peak of the viral surge.”

She said there’s still a strain on capacity in the system, but it is being managed with the resources the hospital typically uses at this time of year.

Macpherson said there has been a significant drop in influenza cases and a smaller decline in RSV cases.

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