Residents in the Rocky Mountain House Region now have improved access to critical care, thanks to the new, larger heliport now being operational. Officials with Alberta Health Services have shared the following news release outlining those details:
The new and bigger heliport at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre is now operational.
Transport Canada has issued a flight certificate confirming air ambulance helicopters, including STARS, can now land at the Alberta Health Services (AHS) facility.
“We are pleased to announce the heliport is operational in time for the August long weekend,” says Kerry Bales, Chief Zone Officer of AHS Central Zone. “It has been a lengthy process but we have very much appreciated the collaboration with the town and community.”
The new heliport can accommodate both models of STARS helicopters: the BK 117 and the AW139. A town-owned water tower near the flight path had to be removed or painted before Transport Canada could give approval to land at the heliport. The tower was dismantled this spring; the Transport Canada inspection occurred July 26.
“A super job well done,” says Rocky Mountain House Mayor Fred Nash. “It’s been a pleasure working with the professionalism of Alberta Health Services for the betterment of the town of Rocky Mountain House, the county and the many visitors who come here.”
Until now, all STARS helicopters were landing at the Rocky Mountain House airport, located about eight kilometres from the health centre. Ground ambulances were used to transport patients to and from the health centre and airport.
“The ability to have all sizes of medevac helicopters land right here at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre will improve access for patients who need critical care transport,” says Bales.
STARS helicopters are more than an ambulance in the air; they are sophisticated medical environments brought directly to the patient. This can mean the difference in the health outcome of a patient when time is of the essence.
On board, a full array of medications and equipment is at the disposal of the air medical crew. STARS personnel are able to administer life-saving drugs, defibrillate a patient’s heart, transfuse blood, and peer inside a patient using portable ultrasound.
“Many lives have been saved because of our ability to provide transport and medical expertise to critically ill and injured patients via air ambulance,” says Mike Lamacchia, Vice President of Alberta and Saskatchewan Operations at STARS.
AHS’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team, including dispatch services, ground ambulances and fixed-wing air ambulances, work with STARS as a key partner to provide an integrated emergency medical response service. STARS physicians, nurses, paramedics and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to be there for Albertans and to save lives 24/7.
AHS spent $430,000 to pay for the tower demolition and the relocation of the town, county and regional fire communication antennas that were located on top of the tower.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
New app uses AI to help Calgary medical students practise interacting with patients
A Calgary medical student has developed a new app that allows future doctors to work on their diagnostic and communication skills before they set up their practices. Eddie Guo, seen in an undated handout photo, is a second-year student at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. He says that one of the challenges in medical school is becoming better at interacting with patients. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Calgary
By Bill Graveland in Calgary
A Calgary medical student has developed an app that allows future doctors to work on their diagnostic and communication skills before they set up their practices.
Eddie Guo, a second-year student at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, said one of the challenges beyond the book learning in medical school is becoming better at interacting with patients.
As a result, he’s turned to the rapidly growing area of artificial intelligence to create a number of virtual patients, with a variety of health conditions, that a student can talk to.
“It’s good to get more than just two or four hours of the practice we get in medical school to really be able understand what it’s like to communicate in a real-life scenario,” said Guo.
“We think it’s a good idea to have more than a few hours of practice before actually going out into the wild and seeing patients for the first time.”
Guo created a program, called OSCE-GPT, where the computer is the patient. Users choose the patient’s gender and can select a scenario or let the computer decide on one for them.
“I’m Ben Johnson and I’ve been having some really bad abdominal pains over the past two days. It’s in the right upper quadrant and it spreads to my back,” said the robotic male voice in the program.
“I’ve also been feeling nauseous and vomiting. I’m here in the emergency department because of the pain.”
The AI patient can answer questions about its condition and, after the conversation, provides feedback to the student along with a list of other questions that could have been asked.
Guo said until he is finally allowed on the medical wards, the only other interactions he gets are with standardized patients, professional actors who present with various conditions.
“As you can imagine, they’re really quite good at their job, but they’re also very expensive,” Guo said.
“We don’t get that much opportunity really to practise speaking with a patient, and so what this app was born out of was a lack of possibility to practise.”
Guo collaborated with medical resident Dr. Mehul Gupta. He said this kind of additional help will make for better doctors.
“One of the things we learn again and again in medical school, and that’s reinforced again in residency, is that the history you take from a patient is almost 99 per cent of the diagnosis that you make and the impression you make on a patient the first time you speak with them is long-lasting,” Gupta said.
“If you have the opportunity to practise to tailor your questions to see how you could have done better, you really do become a better doctor overall.”
Guo said the app is still being upgraded and at this point there is no image of a patient that shows up on the screen. He said he is hoping that things like a chest X-ray, a CT scan or a picture of someone’s skin could be incorporated into the program.
Within the first month of the app’s launch, more than 550 health-care trainees from Canada and across the world including Europe, India, Saudi Arabia and the United States signed on.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
Encouraging news: Update on E. coli outbreak in Calgary
The Emergency Department at Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Hospital at the height of the E. coli outbreak, Sept 7, 2023
As hospital admissions and daily numbers of new E. coli cases continue to decline, health officials are seeing signs that the initial outbreak that affected several Calgary daycares has peaked.
The number of secondary transmissions connected to this outbreak remains low, indicating there is limited transmission of the E. coli bacteria beyond the initial outbreak.
The kitchen connected with the original outbreak remains closed indefinitely. In addition, precautionary measures at specific daycare facilities remain in place. Parents and operators have been made aware of these measures directly and through communication with Alberta Health Services.
“I am relieved every time I hear of a child who is well enough to leave hospital. My heart goes out to each family member who has been impacted, and I want them to know that we will get to the bottom of this. Thank you as well to our front-line staff for supporting these children and their families on the road to recovery.”
“Families have had their lives turned upside down by this outbreak. I’m relieved many of them are seeing their children recover and start to get back to their normal routines. I want to reassure parents they can place their trust in our high-quality child-care system and that they are not alone. We are here to support them in any way we can.”
“We are cautiously optimistic that the outbreak has peaked and that we will continue to see case numbers drop. That said, this does not diminish the fact that we still have some children who remain very ill, and my heart goes out to them, their parents and their loved ones.”
Hospitalizations and cases
As of Sept.19, there were a total of 348 lab-confirmed cases connected to this outbreak, no increase from Sept. 18. Between Sept. 9 and Sept. 14, there was an average increase of 33 new cases a day. Since then, the average case numbers decreased to fewer than four a day to no increase on Sept. 19.
There have been a total of 27 lab-confirmed secondary cases, with no additional secondary cases confirmed, since Sept. 16. Some cases of secondary transmission are common and expected in significant outbreaks such as this.
Currently eight patients are receiving care in hospital, down one from Sept. 18. All these patients have been confirmed as having hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), including two on dialysis (a decrease of one since Sept. 18). All patients are in stable condition and responding to treatment. Front-line health care teams continue to provide the best care and support possible.
A total of 707 children connected to the outbreak have been cleared to return to a daycare facility.
As of Sept. 19, six daycare facilities are under closure or partial closure orders:
- Active Start Country Hills – Dolphin and Starfish preschool classes
- CanCare Childcare – Scenic Acres location – Busy Bees, Bumble Bees and Butterflies classrooms
- CEFA Early Learning Calgary South – JK 3-1 classroom
- Renert Junior Kindergarten – all four Junior K classrooms
- 1st Class Childcare Shawnessy – “Main daycare” area is being closed
- Calgary JCC Child Care – a closure order was issued for infant and toddler rooms on Sept. 15
Closure orders were rescinded for Classrooms 3 and 4 at Vik Academy on the afternoon of Sept. 18 following negative test results for E. coli.
Additionally, while MTC Daycare site is not being closed, affected children and staff in Prominade and McKenzie classrooms are being notified that they are excluded from attending all child-care facilities until they test negative for E. coli and remain symptom-free.
All closure orders are posted on the Calgary Zone Alberta Health Services website.
Initial results suggest these cases affecting additional daycare facilities are predominantly cases of secondary transmission. Either these new cases were in contact with children from the original daycare or children from the original daycares were in contact with the facility.
Parents and staff from all the daycare facilities involved are being provided with information about what to do if they experience symptoms, test positive or have concerns about the health and safety of their child.
The public health investigation into this outbreak continues, and work continues to identify the source of the outbreak. Additionally, the ministries of Health and Children and Family Services are conducting a review of all shared kitchens serving child-care facilities across Alberta.
The food histories of more than 1,150 children and 250 daycare staff are being reviewed by public health officials. This includes those who became ill and those who did not, all of whom were at the 11 affected daycares between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31.
Guidance to parents
If children develop symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, families are encouraged to visit an emergency department. If a child is not symptomatic, do not take them to hospital. Families with concerns or questions can call Health Link at 8-1-1 or contact their family physician for advice and support.
In addition, Alberta’s government is providing families with a one-time payment of $2,000 per child enrolled in the original facilities that were closed due to the outbreak.
Alberta’s government is committed to working with parents and operators through this challenging time and encourage them to reach out to Child Care Connect at 1-844-644-5165 with questions or concerns.
- Supporting Those affected by the E. coli Outbreak (Sept. 15, 2023)
- Update on E. coli outbreak in Calgary (Sept. 12, 2023)
- Alberta Health Services – E. coli Outbreak
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