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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan rural ER closures ‘not permanent,’ premier clarifies' Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan rural ER closures ‘not permanent,’ premier clarifies
WATCH: Saskatchewan rural ER closures ‘not permanent,’ premier clarifies – May 26, 2020

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it will begin reopening some of its rural emergency rooms, temporarily closed in mid-May due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

ER facilities in 12 community hospitals were closed in total.

On Tuesday, SHA said it is planning on reopening facilities in nine of those 12 communities beginning in mid-June including the one in the Town of Preeceville.

“Cautious optimism is the correct term for us here in Preeceville. It seems like it didn’t take very long to flip the switch to close us down. It has taken a little bit more time to flip the switch to open us back up,” said Stacey Strykowski, Preeceville councillor.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Party MLA says temporary rural ER closures bit of an overreaction

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“We will be holding our breath and waiting to see what happens mid-June to make sure the plan goes through.”

Like so many rural communities across the province, Strykowski says it is crucial to have these rooms open as many people rely on them.

“The radius, in which people come from their own communities to the hospital is anywhere from right in town to about a 100 kilometres away,” Strykowski said.
Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June' Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June
Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June – May 26, 2020

SHA said the closed facilities were converted to alternate level of care sites “to help build capacity for any potential surge in COVID-19 cases and to protect as much as possible against outbreaks in these facilities.”

READ MORE: Questions raised about alternate level of care sites at Saskatchewan community hospitals

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said temporarily closing the ER facilities wasn’t an easy decision, but a necessary one at the time.

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“I understand our health system has had to make some very difficult decisions to prepare for the potential and possible surge of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals and communities across Saskatchewan and we have to be ready,” Moe said.

“Thanks to Saskatchewan people for social distancing and helping keep cases low.”

With the curve continuing to flatten across the province, Moe said it was the right time to think about reopening these facilities.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan legislative assembly to resume on June 15 for 14 days

Along with Preeceville, the province is aiming to reopen emergency rooms in Kerrobert, Herbert, Davidson, Wolseley, Arcola, Biggar, Leader and Oxbow. The province expects Arcola to be the first to reopen.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June' Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June
Saskatchewan to start reopening rural emergency rooms in mid-June – May 26, 2020

SHA said the facilities in Broadview, Radville and Lanigan require more time before setting a firm reopening date.

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Moe did say communities, in which the facilities were closed, were worried that these temporary closures could become permanent.

He said it isn’t the case and the province should have done a better job communicating with those communities.

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

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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

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