As a result of sustained critical care pressure, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has begun transferring ICU patients to Ontario in cooperation with the Ontario Critical Care Command Team.
There are expected to be at least six such transfers by end of day Wednesday. SHA CEO Scott Livingston notes that, "We are extremely thankful to our partners in Ontario for stepping up and providing this support."
The province seeks to assure family members affected by the transfers that only patients who are medically stable and appropriate will be sent to Ontario. Patients will be accompanied by a critical care team. Travel and accommodation costs for two essential family/support people will be covered by the province, which has also pledged to provide social and mental health care for family members as necessary.
The national health care system continues to be strained by the fourth wave of the pandemic, and SHA states that it makes far more sense to transfer patients to where the beds are, rather than attempt to move ICU teams around province-to-province.
The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre announced today that it is requesting additional federal aid.
Starting tomorrow, SHA will add information on the daily out-of-province transfers to its existing daily updates. ICU beds in the province have been operating at between 139 per cent to 153 per cent normal planned capacity over the last 10 days. This has been possible only because of frantic emergency measures to re-purpose other areas of patient care.
The move signifies that SHA efforts to keep patients close to home have reached their breaking point.
Despite ever-increasing pressure and educational efforts, vaccine refusal continues to be the main driver of the fourth wave of the pandemic. The Saskatchewan Health Authority repeatedly affirms that "the single best way to reduce the strain on the provincial health care system and reduce ICU numbers is to get vaccinated," and that "(v)accines are safe and effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19."
The full press release can be found on the SHA website.