SHA updates surge plan, says 250 additional beds needed

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says they will need 250 additional beds in the province, with another 64 ICU spaces to handle the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

CEO of the SHA, Scott Livingstone says the health system is reaching its limit.

“The pressures on our system are intense, teams are under intense pressure to manage surge in COVID demand, while still providing everyday health services to residents of the province.,” said Livingstone. “To date, we’ve managed this pressure largely by maximizing our existing capacity, our ability to do that is over. Case surges have been too high, and projected case growth in the next two weeks is even higher. We need to act now, and we have.”

The new phase of the SHA’s plan is to accommodate up to as many as 560 new daily cases in Saskatchewan by the middle of the month. The province announced 259 new cases on Thursday, slightly below the seven-day average of 269.

The SHA says to be able to deal with the COVID-19 surge, up to 600 full-time staff will have to reassigned.

In order to move around necessary staff, the SHA will be slowing down service in areas like elective surgeries, and home care services.

Emergency Operations Centre Lead Derek Miller says the service slowdown will be nothing similar to the reduction at the beginning of the pandemic.

“This is not a broad reduction of services, like what was undertaken in the spring slowdown,” said Miller. “This is rather a much more finely-tuned adjustment in multiple areas that will allow us to achieve the capacity resources that we need.”

Livingstone said the new measures act as a ‘dimmer switch’ on public health services, adding it’s ultimately up to the people of the province to decide how long it will be turned down.

“We will review every week whether that switch needs to be turned up, or turned down, based on our case growth, projected case growth, and the pressures on our hospitals and long-term care facilities,” said Livingstone. “I want to remind the public that they hold the ultimate control of that dimmer switch. We will light up all our services again when Saskatchewan residents help us make it safe to do so.

Livingstone added that, at this point, they are not looking to open any field hospitals, but are preparing should they be needed.

The full outline of the SHA’s plan can be found here.

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