Saskatchewan Union of Nurses calls for two-week ‘circuit lockdown’ as Saskatoon ICU beds fill up

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WATCH: Patients are being diverted from Saskatoon's intensive care unit as it reaches and exceeds capacity; now the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) wants a lockdown amid the pandemic – Nov 16, 2020

Patients are being diverted from Saskatoon’s intensive care unit as it reaches and exceeds capacity. Now, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) wants a lockdown to help the overwhelmed health care system catch up amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The ICU is on bypass, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), and at 128 per cent capacity.

Patients from outside the city are being diverted to ICU’s in other centres — such as Regina and Prince Albert — based on needs and capacity.

Read more: New highs for active coronavirus cases, hospitalizations as Saskatchewan jumps over 300K tested

It said Saskatoon’s ICU is the only centre sending some patients away; however, SUN president Tracy Zambory said members report hospitals in Regina and Saskatoon are filling up.

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Masks became mandatory in communities with over 5,000 people Monday, but SUN said that is not enough to curb the spread. It renewed its calls for mandatory masks in the province.

It’s also calling for a “circuit break” lockdown.

Read more: What is a coronavirus ‘circuit-breaker?’ A pivot in strategy with pros and cons

“(It’s) where we have a two- to three-week stoppage so that contact tracing can catch up, so that testing can catch up,” explained Zambory.

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She said nurses and health care professionals are being stretched thin as they try to keep up with demand.

“They’re seeing themselves full to the max,” she said.

“There is no breaks. It’s just heavy, extreme pressure of very, very sick people, and the beds being full to turning (people) away.”

Read more: Growing group of more than 350 Sask. doctors ask province to do more in COVID-19 fight as ICUs reach capacity

In an email, SHA spokesperson Amanda Purcell wrote: “patients who require critical care treatments, that can only be accessed in Saskatoon, will not be diverted.

“All Saskatoon and north cardiac patients requiring a life threatening procedure will be managed in Saskatoon.”

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Saskatchewan shattered its single-day record with 308 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday.

Zambory said the high case numbers are because people aren’t wearing masks or social distancing and have relaxed on safety precautions.

She said she wants people to work together to help the healthcare system keep up and stop the spread of COVID-19 before it’s too late.

Read more: Saskatchewan reports 308 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations continue to break records

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.

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