First year of COVID-19 hospital stays in Alberta cost an estimated $167 million: CIHI

Article content

A year of hospital stays and ICU admissions for COVID-19 patients in Alberta cost an estimated $167 million, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).

The Institute collected hospitalization and intensive care data for all Canadian jurisdictions except Quebec from January 2020 to February 2021 and released the information last week.

It found that across the country the estimated total cost of COVID-19 hospital stays in Canada (excluding Quebec) for confirmed and suspected cases was more than $821 million, with an average estimated cost of nearly $23,000 per hospital stay.

Alberta’s costs came to an average cost of nearly $28,000 per hospital stay when you consider factors such as the length of stay, staff, medical supplies, testing and equipment that comes with treating a COVID-19 patient. That’s almost four times the average cost of a hospital stay for a patient without COVID-19.


Story continues below

Article content

Alberta ranked second in the country when it comes to total costs, exceeded by only Ontario.

Nick Gnidziejko, CIHI’s manager of clinical administrative databases, the cost of a standard hospital stay in Alberta is higher than other provinces even without taking into account COVID-19.

“It’s not so much that COVID patients, in particular, were more costly in Alberta, just in general a standard hospital stay in Alberta is higher compared to other provinces,” he said.

According to the data, Alberta ranked second in the country with 5,923 COVID-19 cases that required hospitalization, exceeded by only Ontario.

Gnidziejko said it’s not surprising that Ontario would top the list since it has the largest population but it is interesting that Alberta surpassed third-ranked British Columbia which has more people.


Story continues below

Article content

There’s not a clear answer for what caused the ranking, he said.

“Different provinces applied very different strategies for how to manage the pandemic. When things were shut down, for how long all those different strategies were applied, could have had an impact on the number of cases that we saw in different jurisdictions,” he said, adding that more people living in high density areas could also have driven transmission.

The data was collected prior to May when, during the third wave of the pandemic, Alberta had the highest case rate in North America.

Compared to the national average, more COVID-19 patients who had to go to the ICU in Alberta ended up being discharged home, CIHI said.

Nationally, about 40 per cent of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU were discharged as opposed to dying or being transferred to other parts of the hospital. In Alberta, that number was approximately 49 per cent, the third highest rate in the country.

Gnidziejko said there could be a number of factors contributing to Alberta’s statistics including the age of a patient and their condition going into the ICU.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Latest articles

Related articles