REGINA -- Some hospitals throughout rural central and southern Saskatchewan will be converted to help accommodate the projected peak of COVID-19 cases, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

Integrated Rural Health will be designating hospitals and medical centres throughout the province as COVID or non-COVID facilities, based on need.

No facilities would be closed, but some would be temporarily converted to support alternative level of care patients over the next four to six weeks.

Emergency department services will also be temporarily suspended in some areas to support the relocation of staff to higher need sites.

At this time the government has not contemplated developing any field hospitals in rural areas.

Facilities have been designated into four categories: COVID-19 hospital, Non-COVID hospital, temporary conversion to alternate level of care and facilities where primary health care services are reduced.

The government notes these changes will be phased in as required by patient demand and safety.

Sask. COVID Hospitals

Map from the Saskatchewan Health Authority

COVID-19 patients only

The facilities designated as COVID-19 hospitals will treat only patients with the virus. The development of these hospitals will be staged depending on demand in the area. Emergency services will remain open.

Non-COVID patients only

Non-COVID hospitals will be available to people that are not infected with the virus, who have other medical needs.

These facilities will also be developed depending on demand. Emergency services will also remain open.

Long Term Care (LTC)/Alternative Level Care (ALC)

Some facilities will be have their services converted to accommodate alternative level of care patients. These sites will start being converted immediately and be phased over four to six weeks.

Primary health care services reduced

Some areas will have primary health care services reduced to allow for reallocation of staff to more high need areas. Care will be provided through alternative means such as virtual care.

The government’s mid to high range projection models currently show 1,265 to 4,265 patients in hospital across the province at the peak of the pandemic, including 1,280 patients in the ICU with 90 to 95 per cent needing respirators.

Between 153,000 and 408,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases are currently being projected by the SHA, at the peak of the pandemic in the province.