Coping but stressed.

Hospitals are overloaded with H1N1 patients and health officials warn we haven’t hit the peak yet, but they announced new categories for immunizations this week set to phase in the general public.

Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta’s senior medical officer of health, said one-third of patients currently in provincial hospital intensive-care units have the flu, which is a “little higher” than normal, but it’s the ages that are unique.

“The patients who are severely ill and requiring care are younger than what we’d see with seasonal influenza,” Predy said, adding more than 800 people have been hospitalized with H1N1 since April.

Officials admit hospitals are overwhelmed and said 20 more ICU beds were added to cope with the demand.

“Staffing is one of the biggest areas affected. We’ve had staff sick but we’ve juggled things around and managed so far.”

Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the next group in line for immunization this week after those 75 and older (with spouses) would be seniors over 65 and their spouses and partners, and then the province would look at other groups in the general public that could include children.

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