Impact of Omicron felt with health care staffing, 811 HealthLine

The impact of the Omicron variant has been felt within the staffing numbers inside of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Interim COO Derek Miller says they have experienced a 5 % increase of unplanned absences than what normally transpires at this time of year.

Miller says front line workers have stepped up a lot lately. “They’re doing an amazing job once again of responding to the demands of the pandemic, they’re being called in from time off and they’re taking overtime, they’re being deployed to support within facilities and within program areas in order to support absences and assured we are continuing to provide all the day to day services.”

An increasing demand has also been felt with the 811 HeathLine.

The 811 Healthline has seen an increasing amount of calls over the last few weeks. During its peak time in January, the HealthLine had a wait time of over 24 hours and 2,000 callers waiting for a call back.

President of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency Marlo Pritchard says that extra staff is being recruited to help meet the growing demand. “HeathLine 811 has added 60 administrative staff to address general information calls and is in the process of adding additional registered nurses from the supplemental work force.”

As of Wednesday, Paxlovid is now available for Saskatchewan residents.

It has been warned by medical health officers that the antiviral pill should not be considered a substitute for the vaccine.

Pritchard says that Paxlovid is for treatment after a positive COVID test. “It is not a prevention of COVID-19 infection, Paxlovid is only recommended for adults over 18 who are symptomatic and within five days of developing symptoms, they test positive to a PCR or rapid test for mild or moderate COVID-19.”

With the 811 HealthLine expected to see an increased amount of activity, Pritchard added that they will recruit additional staff to manage the HealthLine

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