REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has announced a plan to phase health care services back in, beginning on May 19.

The SHA’s Service Resumption Plan shows services will return in four phases. SHA says implementation of these phases will look different across the province. Only the initial phase has an assigned start date, as following phases will be based on constantly assessing variable factors.

As of May 3rd, the province’s effective reproductive number was 0.97, meaning the average infected person in the province will infect fewer than one other person.

This number is up from 0.7, the effective reproductive number reported by the SHA one week ago.

Officials are concerned that this number is rising, and monitoring it accordingly.

Phase one, May 19: Resumption of some health services and expansion of surgeries, diagnostic imaging

  • Surgery: Phased expansion of surgeries from emergency and three week urgent bookings to six week urgent bookings, which will result in an expansion in surgical services by 10 to 25 per cent.
  • Diagnostic imaging: MRI and CT scans will increase from 50 to 75 per cent of regular capacity.
  • Primary care clinics: Increased availability, using virtual care where possible, prioritize in person visits for those with chronic illnesses.
  • All routine immunizations
  • Public health inspections: Increased inspections of long-term care homes
  • Mental health and addictions: Short-stay units to reopen, in person appointments as needed.
  • Doctors will assess waiting patients to ensure services are performed in a timely manner.

“When people don't get everyday healthcare, their conditions escalate,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said. “That’s why we need a plan in place to ensure people get what they need.”

The SHA explained that staff from suspended services have been redirected to help with efforts related to COVID-19. Health officials explained that as services begin to resume, they will have to balance this with continuing the fight against COVID-19.

Phase two, TBA: Specialty clinics

  • SHA operated specialty clinics will continue with virtual care where possible.
  • This phase includes service in the following areas
  • Level three sleep disorder testing
  • Respiratory outpatient clinic
  • Tuberculosis clinic and treatments
  • Eye centre testing
  • Dermatology clinic
  • Cast clinics
  • Increased fetal testing at high risk antenatal clinics

Phase three, TBA: Further expansion of health services

This phase includes resumption of:

  • Chronic disease management
  • Wellness programs
  • Stroke prevention
  • Opioid agonist therapy
  • Autism and brain injury services
  • Continues resumption of mental health, addition services

Phase four, TBA: Full resumption of services

This phase includes:

  • Addition of elective surgeries
  • Reopen hip, knee outpatient clinics

The SHA says patients will be contacted directly about services directly impacting them.

The SHA limited elective surgeries, procedures and diagnostics on March 23.