The health authority says this is required in order to redeploy 600 full-time staff to respond to an increase of coronavirus hospitalizations in Saskatchewan.
Services affected include primary health care, elective surgeries in urban centres, endoscopy/cystoscopy procedures, women and children programming, diagnostics, therapies, ambulatory care, registration resources, rehab services, home care and environmental services as well as food nutrition services.
The services will still be available, but reduced to allow staff to respond to the pandemic.
With the rise in cases comes a rise in hospitalizations, and the SHA says it needs to keep pace with the projected demand.
In the past 30 days, active cases have increased 530 per cent, as hospitalizations increased 400 per cent. The SHA says these numbers will continue to rise in the weeks ahead.
The health authority is preparing for active cases to climb to 562 per day by mid-December.
In order to manage the surge, ICU beds will increase by 28 per cent in the province, which will create space for an additional 64 COVID-19 patients.
By mid-December, 85 per cent of ICU spaces province-wide will be taken up by COVID-19 patients, the SHA projects.
Additionally, the health authority says they have identified spaces in their existing facilities to create capacity for 250 COVID-19 patients by mid-December. The slowdown of services will also help achieve this space.
At this point, the province is holding off on using its field hospitals.
“We’re not in the process of opening the field hospital, but we are preparing teams,” Livingstone said.
While the projections are not a crystal ball, recent forecasts have been “quite accurate” Livingstone said.
“We can’t get caught off guard to the point where we’re not having resources in place to deal with an influx of cases at that level,” he said.
But it’s not just hospitalizations from new cases that worry health officials.
“Even if we halt transmission completely, we still have all the cases of people that were diagnosed over the last seven to 10 days, who are just going to start becoming ill enough to require hospitalizations and ICU admission,” chief medical officer Dr. Susan Shaw said.
“I think the biggest emotion is concern. Again, it’s not concern that I’m going to get sick or my colleague is going to get sick. It’s concern that we’re going to be faced with more people than we can look after.”