Saskatchewan is preparing to send some of its serious COVID-19 patients to Ontario as its hospitals exceed capacity.
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said Wednesday that the province is preparing air ambulance flights.
He said transfer to Ontario is likely this week, but depends on admission to Saskatchewan’s intensive care units.
“We are in discussions with Ontario to provide care to Saskatchewan residents that we may not be able to care for them within their standard of care,” Livingstone said.
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On Tuesday, the province was shaming two patients by having 116 people in their ICUs – the limit that would trigger sending ICU patients out of the province.
The numbers also mean that Saskatchewan’s ICUs are at close to 150 percent capacity after the province has said it will activate its triage protocol.
Saskatchewan has stopped all elective surgeries, immediately began canceling surgeries and admitted adults to its children’s hospital. Additionally, over 160 health care workers have been redeployed.
“We are seeing unprecedented rates of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. This is pushing the system to a point where we are not taking care of non-COVID patients in this province as we should be,” Livingstone said.
He said a major medical incident would result in doctors choosing who receives an intensive care bed and does not.
“We are making sure we are prepared for the worst,” he said.
Ottawa has offered help to Saskatchewan.
Marlo Pritchard, the chairman of Saskatchewan’s Public Safety Agency, which also leads its emergency operations center, said the province had not applied for federal help.
Last week, Premier Scott Moe said Saskatchewan is being “realistic” because the armed forces and the Red Cross have limited resources.
Andrew McKendrick, spokesman for the federal health minister, said the federal government was committed to helping.
“The COVID situation varies across the country, and therefore additional support will be required,” he said.
“Our officers will continue their dialogue and stand ready to assist in coordinating as much support as can be provided to align with the support needed by the province or territory.”
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