As the province of Saskatchewan announced more ICU patients will be transferred to Ontario, several organizations representing health-care workers expressed disapproval in how the surge in hospitalizations is being handled.
With six ICU patients already moved to Ontario hospitals, the government of Saskatchewan announced three more transfers Thursday. One is scheduled for transfer Friday, one Saturday and a third on Sunday.
With 76 COVID-19-positive patients in ICUs here in Saskatchewan, in addition to 32 non-COVD-19 patients, several calls arose for more government action to protect the capacity of a health-care system currently housing a total of 136 ICU beds.
The province said Wednesday that they’d identified 116 as a threshold number of patients at which transfers would be initiated.
“The modeling revealed by Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab was both alarming and heartbreaking,” Smart said, referencing information released Wednesday that predicted current trends could see ICU numbers balloon above 200 if more restrictions aren’t introduced.
“We urge the provincial government to increase vaccination rates through mandatory vaccination in health-care settings; immediately institute circuit breakers; and seek help from other jurisdictions to provide additional support for workers and patients in need. Any further delays are simply not acceptable.
SEIU-West, a union whose members include licensed practical nurses, also held a press conference demanding action Thursday.
President Barbara Cape said her members “are in the midst of a collapsing healthcare system.”
“Staff are running full tilt to provide care because we have too few hands,” Cape said. “That’s across all aspects of the health-care system.”
She asked government policy makers to “provide clear and transparent plans for the path forward to get out of this pandemic.”
“I urge everyone to call, write, visit your MLA, demand they do better, demand they protect every citizen and demand they take responsibility,” Vice-President Neil Colmin added.
The Saskatchewan Opposition also called for the implementation of additional measures Thursday.
Speaking in Saskatoon, NDP leader Ryan Meili called for a public health order limiting gathering sizes, and asked the government to “release all recommendations from Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer and grant greater independence to the CMHO role.”
“The Premier and his Health Minister are not public health experts. They have made the deliberate decision to repeatedly ignore his clear recommendation for public health measures such as gathering limits,” Meili added in a prepared statement.
“This choice is one more example of a premier who constantly puts politics before peoples’ lives.”
In an emotional plea Wednesday, Dr. Shahab asked all Saskatchewan residents to remain vigilant against the virus over the coming months.
When asked by Global News Thursday, however, the Saskatchewan government provided no new comments about additional restrictions.