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'Hit a critical point': SHA to temporarily slow elective procedures in Sask.


The Saskatchewan Health Authority's (SHA) Emergency Operations Centre directed leaders and care teams to move to a second phase of surge plans that include a temporary slowdown of elective procedures province-wide Friday.

The SHA said the move is the result of "rapidly escalating" COVID-19 pressures on hospitals in Saskatchewan.

"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 CEO Scott Livingstone said in a release. "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 asks health care teams to focus on COVID-19 care while continuing to support emergency and cancer procedures and treatments deemed urgent in the next six weeks.

The SHA said with support from the province's emergency order issued earlier this week, staff will be deployed to provide relief to areas facing urgent and emergent care demands in recent weeks and escalate capacity to meet "rapidly surging demand".

On a media call Friday, Livingstone said the cases currently in ICU are people who were infected two weeks ago, as hospitalizations and ICU admissions are "lagging measures".

"We’re not at the peak yet and we’re not sure when the peak will occur but we do see the cases coming down the road over the next two to four weeks and we are primed and prepared," Livingstone said.

The directive will see the number of ICU beds increase up to 175 from 79 to accomodate a new projection of 125 COVID ICU patients and maintain capacity for as many as 50 non-COVID ICU patients.

Those with affected booked procedures will be contacted and the SHA said it's working on criteria to establish what proceudres will be temporarily paused.

Implementation of the surge plan will occur over the coming days with impact to patients starting next week, according to the health authority. The plans will include patient transfers and individuals may be transferred to facilties that may not match their preference or closest to their home.

"The pressure on our hospitals is a direct result of the ongoing pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Livingstone said. “The result is that many Saskatchewan residents will now go without the health services they need to preserve their quality of life. If you are eligible, please 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."

With files from CTV News Regina's Allison Bamford Top Stories

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