Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary’s Rotary Flames House to reopen for care on Jan. 16

The Rotary Flames House in Calgary will once again re-open to regular services beginning Jan. 16.

AHS had paused the children-focused palliative and respite care in December as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Covid pushed capacity to the limit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

At that time, 65 staff were redeployed from different healthcare areas to cover the swelling demand for capacity at ACH. Capacity at that time was hovering between 100 and 120 per cent health officials said. 

Today, Alberta Children’s Hospital is below 100 per cent capacity, said Dr. Jennifer McPherson, facilities medical director at ACH. She also said there is space in the facility’s intensive care unit.

“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’d had to open during the peak of the viral surge,” she told media Friday.

This drop in demand has allowed them to fully return the 20 full-time-equivalent positions to the Rotary Flames House and resume regular care.

McPherson said they may even be intaking a patient or two over the weekend.

Kids were hit hard as classes resumed in the fall. Some schools were tracking 15 per cent or more absences in their schools. While the winter break saw a gap in reporting, you can see absences rising again now that school has returned.

‘All or none’

Dr. McPherson said that they had discussed a return to full operation carefully. Once there’s a child in the Rotary Flames House, it has to be staffed 24/7. They can’t really split the staff between the two areas, she said.

“We really had to make an all or none decision,” she said.

“This is something we’ve been able to do with the support of our teams and I think now we’ll be able to go back to our normal operations.”

Dr. McPherson also said there’s a level of confidence that they wouldn’t have to go through this process again. They’re constantly monitoring the situation.

“In making this decision, we have to really look at our numbers and make our best educated guess that we won’t have to do this again,” she said.

“We would never say never, but we certainly will continue to monitor our situation with the hopes that we can really continue to manage with our other inpatient strategies that we have in place to manage capacity.”

McPherson said that they’ve seen a steady drop in influenza cases. They’re seeing a similar, but not as significant decline in RSV.

AHS will be closing six temporary medical acute short-stay beds that were supported by the Rotary Flames House staff and physicians.

Palliative care continued to be provided during the six weeks Rotary Flames House was closed, AHS said.