Saskatchewan prepared to send critical COVID-19 patients to Ontario

WATCH: Saskatchewan's newly created emergency management team says some critical COVID-19 patients may be sent to Ontario as early as this week.

Spaces at Saskatchewan hospitals are so limited that the province says it is planning on sending some of its critical COVID-19 patients to Ontario.

As of Wednesday, no patients have been transferred out of province.

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But health officials in Saskatchewan say transfers could happen as early as this week.

Saskatchewan is running out of space and staff to care for COVID-19 patients, most who are unvaccinated.

The province has already cancelled all elective surgeries, is placing adults in its children’s hospital, and has redeployed over 160 health-care workers to COVID-19 wards.

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Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, says the province is close to triaging patients because its ICUs are nearing 150 per cent capacity.

“We are seeing unprecedented rates of hospitalization and ICU admission. This is pushing the system to a place where we are not providing care to non-COVID patients as we should be,” he said.

That means doctors may soon be choosing who does and who does not get an intensive care bed.

“About a week ago we had 11 admissions to Regina General Hospital ICU within a 24-hour period,” Livingstone said.

“If that was to happen again, we would be triaging patients and sending out of province.”

Ottawa has offered help to Saskatchewan, but the province says it has not yet applied for extra resources. The team said it is working on a plan, but added the federal government’s resources are limited.

The opposition slammed the Saskatchewan government during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“The federal government has made it clear that help is here and ready, and they’re refusing to even ask,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, continued to stress the importance of getting more of the population vaccinated.

-With files from Global’s Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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