Saskatchewan’s hospitals are on the brink as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, according to some health-care professionals.
Now, ICUs are at capacity with patients, forcing those on the front lines to make difficult choices. The latest surge could be putting some of the province’s most vulnerable patients at risk, one doctor said.
In Saskatoon, some adult patients are getting care at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, with the province’s only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
The children’s hospital is being used for some adult patients “to support demand in Saskatoon,” according to an email from the Saskatchewan Health Authority to Global News.
“This is part of the work we do provincially to manage capacity and ensure appropriate level of care,” reads the email.
One doctor said that means less resources for children.
“Given where things are at it’s almost inevitable that there’s going to be a small number of kids who are going to need critical care support,” said Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease specialist.
“Whether (support is) going to be there or not is hard to say when we’ve got adults filling those beds right now .”
Wong said hospitals across Saskatchewan are also struggling with enough health-care professionals on the front line, forcing them to make these tough decisions about where patients are treated.
He said he’s worried about where it goes next.
“We’re not going to have enough critical care capacity for everyone and then we’re going to obviously have to start making decisions again about who gets sort of optimal care versus who gets suboptimal care versus who gets care at all,” Wong said.
He added the Saskatchewan government needs to bring in public gathering restrictions, and upping the province’s testing capacity.
Meanwhile, Wong said the simplest way the public can help is by staying home.
“Delta is surging right now; there’s no critical care capacity. Just lay low, don’t do anything that’s going to land you basically in a situation where you’re going to need ICU care,” he said.
He said the best way to protect those under 12 is to get vaccinated, something echoed by the province.
As of Tuesday there are four children under 11 in hospital with COVID-19, according to the province. None of those kids are in the ICU.
The Ministry of Health said evidence is showing kids with underlying medical conditions and infants under 12 months old may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 infections.