Vic. Hospital Foundation rolls out COVID-19 emergency response fund

Pictured is Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital. (Herald file photo)

Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital Foundation (VHF) has launched an emergency response fund to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds raised from The Greatest Need campaign will go towards personal protection equipment such as masks and gowns, blood pressure monitors, pain pumps and ventilators, to name a few.

“Our hospital and every other hospital in the province is preparing to deal with something that might be bigger than what we can handle,” said VHF CEO Sherry Buckler.

The VHF is distinct from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

The SHA has placed a bulk order of ventilators in preparation for the demand. 

As of Tuesday, the SHA was unsure about when that order would arrive or whether or not it would even get the full order.

When Chief Medical Officer Susan Shaw was asked if she could guarantee that every patient needing a ventilator in the future would get one, she couldn’t give a clear answer.

“Our commitment is to prepare and do everything possible at our end to be ready, and our ask is that everybody out in the public keeps themselves safe,” said Shaw.

“Every jurisdiction on the planet right now is trying to get ventilators,” added Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter.

Buckler said she didn’t know how many ventilators would be allocated to the Victoria Hospital, and that one of them costs between $30,000 and $75,000.

“We are trying to think ahead and plan for that so if we need more, that we will be able to respond to that urgent need at the time.”

She said community groups and individuals have been asking if they can donate financially or through items such as homemade masks. The SHA, however, is asking those who wish to donate to hold off as they assemble a direct line for procurement items.

Other equipment that the VHF has purchased as the result of its fundraising have prepared them for the pandemic, added Buckler.

“We have an IC (Intensive Care) unit in the Vic that has eight beds, so (at) any time we can care for eight very, very sick people,” she said, but “we virtually have double the amount of beds for the simple reason that we purchased telemetry units.”

Telemetry units allow ICU staff to monitor patients from anywhere in the hospital.

Projects like expanding the hospital and the neonatal unit are being put on hold.

“This is the most urgent priority at the moment. Our lives could be at stake, so we are addressing that immediately and that is the meaning of local health care. If you really take a look at it, it is often a life or death situation,” said Buckler.

As of Thursday, there were no patients in central Saskatchewan requiring hospital care because of COVID-19. There are, however, two in Saskatoon, with one of those cases in the ICU and three in Regina, two of them in the ICU.

At this time, visitors are not allowed at the Victoria Hospital, Herb Basset Home or Pineview Terrace except for compassionate reasons, including visiting during end-of-life care.

To donate to VHF’s The Greatest Need campaign, visit www.helpthevic.ca