SHA activates next surge plan level due to escalating COVID-19 cases

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is moving to its next level of surge plans due to rapidly escalating COVID-19 pressures on hospitals in the province.

The SHA’s Emergency Operations Centre said it has directed leaders and care teams to activate the second phase of surge plans, including a temporary slowdown of elective procedures.

Read more: Saskatchewan brings mandatory masks back, proof of vaccination coming Oct. 1

“We have hit a critical point, and are now on the verge of the largest test our health care system has faced since this pandemic began,” SHA chief executive Scott Livingstone said in a statement Friday.

“Teams are being asked to support the health care system’s ability to maintain services to those at greatest risk, while ensuring the SHA can support testing and contact tracing to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The directive sets new surge targets for intensive care and hospital capacity, including surging from a baseline of 79 intensive care unit beds up to 175 beds.

The SHA said this is to accommodate a new projection of 125 COVID-19 ICU patients while ensuring capacity for 50 non-COVID-19 patients.

It will also flex up capacity across the province to provide care for 350 non-ICU COVID-19 patients — up from 255.

Read more: Saskatchewan Health chief medical officer on COVID-19 burnout, protests

Livingstone said the pressure being felt by the province’s health-care system is a direct result of the “ongoing pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“The result is that many Saskatchewan residents will now go without the health services they need to preserve their quality of life,” he said, and urged everyone to get vaccinated.

“To do otherwise is to risk making a choice for all Saskatchewan residents about whether the emergency and critical services will be there for them when they need it.”

The directive also asks teams to focus support on COVID-19 care while continuing to support emergency care, cancer treatments and procedures and cases deemed urgent over the next six weeks.

The SHA said criteria are being established to determine what procedures will be temporarily paused and those patients affected will be contacted.

The surge plans will require patient transfers and the SHA said individuals may be transferred to facilities that may not match their preference or be close to their home.

Staff are also being deployed to areas of the province facing urgent and emergent care demands to provide immediate relief and escalate capacity.

The SHA said teams will work to implement load levelling processes within and across all acute care and ICU sites in the province.

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