Sask. in talks with Ontario about potential ICU transfers: SPSA
Saskatchewan is in talks with the Government of Ontario over the potential need to send intensive care patients to other provinces, according to a COVID-19 briefing from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).
The SPSA said they appreciates Ontario’s willingness to engage, but they hope they don’t have to use them.
The province has not reached the threshold for transferring patients to other health authorities.
As of Tuesday, the province is only a few ICU patients away from having to activate triage protocol - which means doctors in the province would have to decide who can and cannot be admitted to ICU for care.
“It fluctuates on a day to day basis and the last thing the ICU teams across this province want to see is patients having to leave the province to receive care, but at the same time we want every Saskatchewan resident to receive the very, very best care they can,” said Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, during a teleconference on Wednesday.
Saskatchewan Health Authority data shows there were 114 people in ICUs across the province - 79 of those patients had COVID-19. The province was just two patients away from having to activate its "red zone," which is triggered when there are 116 people in intensive care.
The “red zone” would force hospitals to make triage decisions with patients.
Some measures have already been put in place to build capacity in hospitals, like major slowdowns of services elective surgeries, moving patients to smaller centres and redeploying staff to the ICU.
Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease specialist, said a major issue is not having enough ICU nurses to keep up with the number of patients in care.
Wong and the SPSA warned a sudden influx in the ICUs in Regina or Saskatoon, or a major accident with multiple traumas could push the health care system over the edge.
“We’re right up to our chins at this point and I don’t think that things are going to turn around, at least in our hospitals, for another two or three weeks so what the future holds, it’s pretty scary,” said Wong in a Zoom interview with CTV News.
NDP leader Ryan Meili said the province never should have got in to this situation and called on either the premier or the health minister to make the call.
“We should be taking every bit of care that we can get, [Scott Moe] said we need to exhaust the local resources before we ask for help anywhere else, the local resources are exhausted, the front line health care providers are exhausted. They need this help and they need it now,” said Meili.
The province has not yet asked the federal government for help.
MILLIONS OF RAPID TESTS ARRIVE
Nearly 2 million rapid antigen tests have arrived in the province, with 1 million of those going toward the province’s Test to Protect program.
The program will supply rapid tests to schools, long-term care homes, medical centres, correctional centres and shelters.
The rest of the kits will be available to the general public through places like SHA testing centres
The kits are for asymptomatic people. Those with symptoms are asked to use SHA testing sites.
Isolation centres in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert are also re-opening for those who cannot or will not self-isolate.
With files from the Canadian Press.