Health officials give an update on Saskatchewan’s surge plans, announce organ donation program suspended

The Saskatchewan Health Authority still has the same surge targets in place as the ones that were announced on September 17th.

Derek Miller, Emergency Operations Centre Commander with the SHA says they’re still working towards a goal of needing to care for 150 ICU COVID patients and 350 COVID acute care patients. Miller adds 70 per cent of ICU beds in the province are being used to treat those infected with COVID-19.

In Saskatchewan’s two largest centres, Miller says more medicine beds have been added and staffed with 36 added in Saskatoon and 22 in Regina.

During a media availability Thursday morning, health officials said that the pediatric ICU in the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital started accepting adult patients, some who are COVID-positive and others who aren’t in hospital for COVID-related reasons.

Dr. Susan Shaw, the health authority’s Chief Medical Health Officer said the PICU team at the children’s hospital stepped forward and said they had the capacity and the ability to take care of selected adult patients. In Regina, there are ICU patients being treated in the cardiac care unit. As of Thursday morning, the health authority said there was one COVID-positive adult receiving care at the JPCH PICU.

One of the programs and services affected by the surge plans is the suspension of the tissue and organ donation program. Lori Garchinski with the Saskatchewan Health Authority said, often the staff with critical care experience are the ones working with the donation program.

She says the health authority will only provide immediate tissue donation, particularly for their ocular patients. Garchinski says organ donations won’t be taking place right now due to the surge plans. “Unfortunately, with the suspension of our program, it would mean unfortunately that gift and that registration that they so kindly provided would not be able to come to fruition. We would continue to manage them and support them with end of life care.”

As of 11:30 Thursday morning, there were 84 patients in Saskatchewan ICUs with 60 receiving care for COVID-19. Miller says the demand that they’re seeing in hospitals right now is driven from the amount of cases that were seen 10 to 14 days ago. He adds since then, the amount of cases a day have continued upwards which is expected to put more demand and stress on the healthcare system.

Health officials are hopeful the health restrictions will start to bend the curve and lead to a demand decrease for healthcare facilities.


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