Released on November 26, 2020
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) continues to escalate its response to COVID-19, using the Health System Readiness Plan to guide actions being taken to contain, delay and mitigate the virus. This includes the SHA’s system redeployment plan to identify services that will be slowed to support:
To date, the SHA has been able to manage recent surges in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, largely through existing capacity and adaptations to services. These adaptations of services include the use of bypass procedures for high volume acute care units, use of surge spaces, the conversion of hospitals to COVID-only hospitals and temporary pauses on admissions and other acute care services in some areas. Small reductions in surgical volumes have also been required in Saskatoon.
Despite being able to manage with limited impacts so far, high sustained caseloads in the last few weeks will lead to increased hospitalizations and ICU admissions in the days ahead and require the SHA to step up phased implementation of its surge plans. Examples of impact of current cases and the scale of the surge plan include:
“Scaling up on this level is a significant challenge, so we need the public’s help to ensure we do not face the exponential growth in cases going forward that would strain our ability to scale up on the timelines required,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said. “As an example, surging our ICU capacity by 449 per cent means adding more ICU beds than there are in all four of Canada’s Atlantic provinces combined, all on an expedited timeline while operating under the extreme duress of the pandemic, illustrating the scope of our task if we do not get help from the public.”
SHA’s surge plans rely primarily on highly skilled and trained medical staff that cannot be sourced solely through the labour market. That is why the SHA is working with the Public Service Commission on adding staff from the province and working with the federal government to add staff from Statistics Canada to the SHA’s contact tracing capacity. Targeted service slow downs are also being identified for redeployment of staff to the priority areas identified above in contact tracing, acute care, long-term care and other situations where the spread of COVID creates risk to SHA’s ability to continue providing essential services.
The decision to pause or reduce services on a local level 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.
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.
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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