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SHA says more staff redeployment, service slowdowns in next phase of COVID-19 surge plan

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says that anticipating a surge of COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks, they will be activating the next phase of their surge plan.

The plan will see redeployment of up 600 full-time equivalent staff to support pandemic response, making 50 to 60 healthcare workers available in six areas of the province, deployable to deal with outbreaks in the coming weeks, and the strategic slowdown of some services. SHA is also working at creating capacity for contact tracing of approximately 560 average cases per day, meeting anticipated demand.

Public health says the move is being made to avoid a broad reduction of services, offer space for 64 ICU beds across the province and room for 250 new COVID-19 patients receiving inpatient care. The SHA says this would be more ICU beds than is currently available in all of Saskatoon or Regina, and inpatient capacity at equivalent to the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current and the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital combined.

Some services will also be slowed in order to meet demand. The SHA says in “the vast majority of cases, these slowdowns are simply reducing service volumes to enable redeployment of staff.” Services that could be slowed down across the province include:

  • Some primary health service
  •  Elective surgeries in urban centres
  •  Endoscopy, cystoscopy procedures
  •  Women and children’s programming
  •  Diagnostics
  •  Therapies
  •  Ambulatory care
  •  Registration resources
  •  Environmental, food and nutrition services
  •  Rehab service
  •  Home care

The SHA notes that some programs could be paused, but this will likely be limited to highly localized programs like dental programs, therapeutic and rehabilitation programs and active living programs.

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“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,” said CEO Scott Livingstone in a release. “While we acknowledge that service slowdowns 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.”

The SHA will announce where and when services will be slowed down on their website, as they happen.

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