Nine ICU patients moved to Ontario thus far

Graphic courtesy HFCM Communicatie, via Wikimedia This is a representation of what the Covid-19 virus would look like under a powerful microscope.

Six critical care nurses expected Wednesday

The province moved three more ICU patients to Ontario over the past three days bringing the total to nine.

The province also confirmed that more critical care nurses will be coming to the province. Both announcements were made during the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) COVID-19 pandemic response update teleconference on Monday afternoon.

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) president Marlo Pritchard said they expected three more patients to be transferred by the end of the day, with four more scheduled for Tuesday.

“These transfers are being done to further reduce the strain on our healthcare system,” Pritchard said. “Once again we are grateful to the province of Ontario, the Ontario Critical Care Command Centre and the many administrators, doctors and nurses for their ongoing support.”

The province promised an update on these numbers before deadline, but the information was unavailable by press time.

Pritchard said the average cost per flight was between $15,0000 and $22,000 to get the patient to Ontario.

“Of course there is other costs that are associated with around supporting family members, but again, we will have to get you the exact cost because every one of them depending on location is slightly different,” he said.

Pritchard’s numbers related to COVID-19 were the same as in the dashboard with 170 new cases. There were 290 in hospital, 71 were in with COVID-19 and 45 without COVID-19 for 117 total in intensive care across the province.

Pritchard six critical care nurses from the federal government would be arriving in the province. He expected them to be start work Wednesday in Regina.

“Details are still being finalized, but we expect that these critical care nurses will help provide much needed relief for staff working in these ICUs,” Pritchard said. “We are also receiving federal support in the form of an aeromedical transport plane that has been specifically outfitted to transfer ICU patients including those diagnosed with COVID. The first flight is expected to occur this Tuesday.”

Pritchard later stated that the province had asked for other specialized supports from the Federal government that were not available. They are also working out logistics for 20 Canadian Red Cross nurses that are not critical care.

“This really speaks to the conversation that I had at the federal level probably over two weeks ago: where the resources were, what they were going to do, (and) what they could do to support,” he said. “But, there are not a lot of specialty nurses that support the ICU available, in all fairness, across Canada to support that surge.”

Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said that the six nurses will help relieve some of the stress so Saskatchewan teams can get rested.

Livingstone said that there is no plan at this time to restart any paused healthcare in the province. This is due to the capacity issues in critical care and on the wards with COVID-19.

Livingstone explained that there was no intent to look at any of them.

“The priority would be and always would be not just to care for our COVID patients using all of the resources including out of province ICU care, but at the same time try to build capacity in province to start restarting some of those procedures because those patients are at risk,” Livingstone said.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab did not call for additional measures, but asked people to continue to take precautions as cases have begun to trend down in recent days.

“We need to do everything we can to bend the curve downwards,” he said. “That includes practicing all of the public health measures (already) in place and going well beyond that. I have already talked about limiting your personal number of contacts, limiting your gatherings, using proof of vaccination even where you are not required to do so.”

Shahab said this will benefit the struggling healthcare system in the long run.

“We need to sustain the cause for the next four to six weeks, really get our case numbers down, really get our hospitalization really get a chance for our healthcare system to recover in terms of lower hospitalizations due to COVID in acute care and ICU,” he explained.