Learn more about COVID-19 in Saskatchewan:
Learn more about COVID-19 in Saskatchewan:
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Released on December 3, 2020
Based on continued surges in COVID-19 cases, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is moving forward with the next phase of its surge plan to meet the expected demand for COVID-19 patients in the next two weeks, including the required service slow downs to support the redeployment of up 600 full-time equivalent staff to support pandemic response.
The SHA’s goal remains to avoid a broad reduction of services across all areas in the health care system. Instead, working with our partners, the SHA is taking a targeted approach to minimize patient, client and resident impact while maximizing the ability to mobilize full-time staff to other areas.
Highlights from the first phase of the surge plan being implemented include:
The SHA is reviewing surge plans every week to ensure each surge and any associated slow downs are as measured as possible to maintain an appropriate balance between the urgent needs of the pandemic response and the need for Saskatchewan residents to have access to every day health services.
“Surges of this scale and on this timeline necessitate service slow downs to enable redeployment of staff, otherwise more people will die from COVID-19 because we can’t get them the help they need and we can’t get out in front of the virus,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said. “We acknowledge that this will result in some Saskatchewan residents experiencing localized service slow downs in pockets across the province, that is why we are committed to making these efforts as time-limited and targeted as possible.”
Over the coming days, services will be affected at varying levels in various locations, depending on local plans and needs.
Services affected that will be slowing down include some primary health care services, elective surgeries in urban centres, endoscopy/cystoscopy procedures, Women and Children’s Programming, diagnostics, therapies, ambulatory care, registration resources, environmental and food and nutrition services, rehab services and home care services. It is critical to note that these services will still be available, just at reduced volumes or levels.
The scale of service slow downs range by location and service type. In the vast majority of cases, these slow downs are simply reducing service volumes to enable redeployment of staff. There are some limited exceptions where services will be temporarily paused. These are highly localized programs like dental programs, therapeutic and rehabilitation programs and active living programs. Notifications for local staff and key local stakeholders for these service pauses will occur in the coming days and will be communicated publicly once those have occurred.
These service changes will enable the SHA to redeploy up to 600 FTE staff to strengthen testing, contact tracing and to identify the health care workers necessary to expand hospital and ICU capacity to help keep COVID and non-COVID patients alive and ensure the SHA can provide the care they need.
“As we noted last week when we updated the public on our surge plans, if we don’t act now, the exponential growth of this virus will outpace our ability to scale up,” Livingstone said. “While we acknowledge that service slow downs will temporarily reduce access for Saskatchewan residents to some of their everyday health services, the alternative is for our health system to be overwhelmed and to risk our ability to provide critical lifesaving services to both COVID and non-COVID patients.”
Next steps and communications processes
The services reduced or paused as part of this surge will be communicated through the service alerts page at https://www.saskhealthauthority.ca/news/service-alerts-emergency-events/Pages/service-alerts.aspx of the Saskatchewan Health Authority website as well as through proactive communications locally, where appropriate or required to support patient/family navigation of the health system.
The SHA has updated the Health System Readiness Plan at https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/pandemic-planning first developed in spring 2020 outlining the offensive and defensive strategies being deployed by the SHA.
Protect our health system and keep your friends and family safe
With the recent surge in cases, the SHA is reminding the public that the primary factor in enabling the health system to meet the demand created by the COVID-19 virus is actions taken by Saskatchewan residents to stop the spread. Please help us by:
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