SHA to prepare field hospitals in Saskatoon, Regina for coronavirus patients

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SHA to prepare field hospitals in Saskatoon, Regina for coronavirus patients
WATCH: SHA outlines COVID-19 urban-area health plan – Apr 9, 2020

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is moving forward with plans to set up field hospitals in the province’s two largest cities to help with the potential overflow of COVID-19 patients.

The province released its plan on April 8, which shows Merlis Belsher Place and Evraz Place have been chosen as locations to hold several hundred patients.

Merlis Belsher will have space for 250 COVID-19 patients and Saskatoon’s Integrated Health Incident Command Centre (IHICC) said it will start to be set up early next week.

“We have triggers that once city hospital is approximately 50 per cent full, we will be starting to ensure that our field hospital is ready to go and that we’ve done simulation exercises so that we can do that care safely in a non-traditional setting,” said Saskatoon incident commander Suzanne Mahaffey.

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There is no timeline in place for when any of the IHICC’s measures will be implemented, but both command centres say as demand increases more resources will be made available.

The province released three models of what Saskatchewan’s health system could anticipate.

The health system is preparing for an average of the medium and high range of outcomes.

The medium-range model projects more than 1,200 people would need acute care and 380 would need to be placed in intensive care simultaneously across the province at the peak of the outbreak.

Regina is setting up 400 acute care beds at Evraz Place split between COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients.

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“It’s really early to say what type of patients would go into that field hospital. We are in the midst of trying to secure some equipment and supplies which would include beds and other equipment and supplies that are needed,” said Regina incident commander Sheila Anderson.

The SHA could also move non COVID-19 patients to make space for those with the virus.

The authority said as of April 5, 43 per cent of Saskatchewan’s acute care beds were available for use largely as a result of the slow down and preparation for the surge.

It said patients will be cohorted by unit and by floor and it will bring in negative pressure rooms to ensure health care workers will be able to decontaminate after treating positive patients.

The province’s report states there would be around 300 ICU beds to spare between the cities, but that space would be needed for patients from rural and remote locations.

The command centres are expecting health care practitioners to have to put in overtime and even work in environments they might not be familiar with.

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The health authority maintains that the best form of fighting the virus is following the public health measures and social distancing so field hospitals don’t have to open.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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