SHA CEO Scott Livingstone says the province is already over capacity in ICU’s and any major event may trigger protocols to send patients out of province. His comments came as Provincial Emergency Operations Centre and health officials updated on their expanded efforts to take pressure off the health care system.

“We are already over our capacity in ICU’s so any major event, for example about a week ago we had 11 admissions to Regina General Hospital ICU within a 24 hour period. If that was to happen again, we would be triaging patients and sending out of province. We would hit our capacity load.”

Livingstone pointed to the work they are doing through the PEOC as they try to build capacity in the fight against COVID. He noted that the redeployment of over 160 staff has raised the capacity of ICU’s by 150 per cent, but it has caused slowdowns and these will continue.

“Despite that capacity we are building, we are seeing unprecedented rates of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. This is pushing the system to a place where we are not providing care to non-COVID patients across this province as we should be, and hence the service slowdowns which will continue.”

As of October 12th, there are 80 patients in ICU’s across the province.

Livingstone indicated they will aim to provide appropriate patient care in the province with the expanded service. He noted the trigger to send patients out of province will depend on what they see in the coming days.

Livingstone added they have set a target to have 135 operational ICU beds in the province.

“We have built our capacity today, to have 135 ICU beds in operation in the province of Saskatchewan. We haven’t reached that threshold of 135. At that level, we won’t believe we are providing a standard of ICU care. So we have set the target lower for out of province transfer. But it’s going to be something that fluctuates literally each and every day.”

Livingstone noted that a critical factor is the ability of staff, especially ICU trained nurses to maintain this capacity without burning themselves out. He said the trigger is about 116 ICU patients at any given time, but they have lowered the non-COVID ICU numbers.

He said they are also working with the receiving jurisdictions to determine the type of patient they are able to treat.