Sask. health authority outlines ICU capacity concerns as province continues to reach pandemic-high hospitalizations
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is bracing the system for record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations as this number of patients needing intensive and acute care are expected to increase in the coming weeks.
Dr. Susan Shaw, chief medical officer for the SHA, said there are now enough COVID-19 inpatients to fill both hospitals in Swift Current and Prince Albert.
Hospitalizations hit 273 on Thursday, marking the fifth day in a row the province hit a new record. The SHA said 60 of those patients are in the ICU as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, another pandemic high. There are 24 non-COVID ICU patients, bringing the ICU total to 84 – which exceeds the province’s baseline capacity of 79 ICU beds. The SHA has added 24 surge beds to take ICU capacity to 103.
As hospitalizations continue to increase, the SHA said the demand is beginning to shift from the Saskatoon area and the north to Regina and rural areas, where active cases are slowly beginning to trend upwards.
The health authority has activated its surge capacity plans and is preparing to care for 125 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and 350 COVID-19 patients in acute care in the coming weeks
Derek Miller, emergency operations centre commander for the SHA, said the health authority has added 36 adult medicine beds in Saskatoon and 22 beds in Regina in addition to the ICU surge beds.
Aside from beds for critically ill patients, Dr. Shaw said there is another resource that has limits: health-care workers.
“We will continue to try and expand our ICU as best we can. But the finite resource are skilled health-care personnel who work in the team that provides care to the ICU patients,” said Dr. Shaw.
The health authority continues to prepare for the surge to come. Miller estimates most of the cases currently in hospital were identified 10 to 14 days ago. Infections have increased since then, with over 6,000 new cases confirmed in the last two weeks.
Miller said the SHA will do its best to meet the increasing demand, but people also need to do their part to bend the curve.
“No one can predict for sure what will come longer term because this is all completely dependent on the behavior of Saskatchewan residents,” said Miller.
“That’s why I urge everyone to follow the new public health orders, wear your mask, and most of all, if you are eligible, please get vaccinated as soon as possible.”