Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to enter all SHA acute care facilities and long-term care homes (LTC) starting on Nov. 8.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced the decision on Friday. The policu aligns with both the SHA Health Care Worker Proof of Vaccination policy and the provincial proof of vaccination contained in the Saskatchewan Public Health Order for non-essential businesses and events.
“This policy will help protect the vulnerable residents in our health care facilities by reducing the risk of transmission in these high risk settings,” Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said during a media phone conference on Friday. “The SHA will be communicating additional details in the lead up to the implementation date to insure that visitors to these facilities are fully informed of these new requirements.”
“Patients will not be required to have proof of full vaccination to receive care or service,” he added.
The Ministry of Health will be also directing personal care homes to align with this policy. All essential family/supports and visitors are to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
SHA CEO Scott Livinstone said that the policy is consistent with the SHA, acute care and SHA staff policies and they are aligned with the Nov. 8 start date.
“Throughout the pandemic we have tried to maximize family presence in our long term care facilities using another mechanism to insure staff, patients and visitors safety is in place and that,” he said.
Without a proof of vaccination, essential family/supports and visitors to long term care homes (including affiliates) and personal care homes may provide a negative PCR or a rapid antigen test, provided the test is performed in the last 72 hours by an approved third party provider.
These services are user pay and a list of providers is available on the Government of Saskatchewan website. The SHA will not cover the cost of testing.
Livingstone said the new policy may not be easy to implement across the organization, but it’s necessary to keep patients and staff as safe as possible.
“We are still in the pandemic, as a reminder,” he added.
“We are still seeing cases in long term care and, as well, we need to insure that we are maximizing family presence,” Livingstone explained. “We believe that with the implementation of a program like this we are actually adding another layer of safety for our staff and our patients and the people who visit them.”
Individuals will have several options for showing proof of vaccination credentials. These include the QR Code on a mobile phone or SK Vax Wallet app, QR code printed from MySaskHealthRecord, COVID-19 vaccine certificate printed from MySaskHealthRecord,wallet cards received at time of immunization from the Saskatchewan Health Authority or Indigenous Services Canada or proof issued by another province, territory or government.
An exemption process is being created and more information will be provided once the details are finalized.