Preparations are underway to free up hospital space to be able to care for patients with COVID-19, Alberta Health Services said Friday.

The day surgery unit at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has been temporarily closed, Heather Kipling, a communications director with AHS, said Friday.

Kipling said the unit will be repurposed to ensure the hospital has beds, equipment and staff available for the “expected increased demand caused by COVID-19.” The space became available after the province announced earlier this week elective surgeries would be postponed, Kipling said.

She said similar measures are being implemented at “hospitals across the province, in some shape or form,” but did not provide further details about which facilities in which cities may be used specifically to treat patients who contract COVID-19.

“It also enables us to use our operating rooms and surgical recovery rooms as ICU spaces, further increasing hospital capacity,” Kipling said in a statement Friday.

“And it allows us to redeploy physicians, staff and equipment (including personal protective equipment) to areas of greatest need.”

AHS has also started transforming operating rooms and surgical recovery rooms into ICUs. Alcoves, hallways and other spaces where patients can safely be cared for will also be utilized, Kipling said.

This work is not unique to AHS’ COVID-19 response, Kipling noted, adding that the health service uses over-capacity protocols whenever pressure on its hospitals increases.

For more information on the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta and where they are located, visit the Alberta government’s website.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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