'The supports have been provided': Sask. premier rejects 2nd invitation to tour ICUs
REGINA -- As Regina’s intensive care units continue to operate over capacity, Saskatchewan’s premier and health minister have rejected a second invitation to tour the overwhelmed units from the head of the city’s ICUs.
The first invitation to tour local ICUs was extended from hospital staff last week on April 21.
Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, head of critical care in Regina said he would welcome a visit from the premier.
“Unless you actually see it and experience it, the full impact of it really isn’t there,” Dr. Betcher said.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe expressed no intention of taking a tour.
“The supports have been provided, all of the equipment that is necessary has been provided,” Moe said of the tour.
A Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) physician town hall held on April 22, data was presented that showed the province’s total ICU capacity is slowly pushing toward what it calls the “red zone” which would see 116 to 150 patients in the ICU and force significant service slowdowns.
The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Regina’s ICU has more than doubled since March 25; from 12 to 30 on April 25.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said he’s heard that the situation in Regina ICUs has been “challenging”.
“I have had the opportunity to talk to former ICU nurses on this. I talked to my officials, I'm on calls with doctors so they can express what is going on,” Merriman said. “I have an understanding of what's going on. And that's not in person, but I have a very good feeling as to what is happening on those, and the emotion and the intensity that's happening there, and I can't thank them enough.”
NDP leader Ryan Meili visited the ICU recently and offered to join the premier on a tour. He mentioned that some families of those who have died of COVID-19 have joined demands for officials to tour ICUs, including the wife of late local chef Warren Montgomery.
“He's the guy who's making those policy decisions. Those upstream decisions are failing people and resulting in our ICUs being filled. Maybe if he could actually see with his own eyes he would change his heart, and act differently.” Meili said.
“Scott Moe has never acknowledged how bad things are going. I feel like if he actually went and saw with his own eyes, maybe he'd be unable to keep denying the reality of the mess he's made of that third wave.”
The head of the Saskatchewan Health Authority toured the ICU last week. Premier Moe says he has access to information from top officials.