Just weeks after a leaked document showed an ICU bed in Regina was closed, another document has revealed that the ICU at the Union Hospital in the Battlefords has been closed for weeks.
The document outlines the intensive care unit was shut down on July 13 and will remain closed until Aug. 3rd.
This means anyone seeking intensive care will have to be transported to another facility.
The closure is not listed on the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) service disruptions page, and the Sask. NDP say most people who have found out about the closures have done so through community-run Facebook pages.
NDP Leader Carla Beck said doctors she has talked to are scared of more closures.
“Health care workers are telling us they are terrified someone is going to show up at their hospital, at their facility and not know if their services are suspended for a time or indefinitely,” Beck said.
Rural and Remote Health Critic Matt Love said the fact that health care workers are being driven to leak memos to tell the public is concerning to see, and said the government needs to be more transparent.
“We’re now regularly getting leaked information from front-line health-care workers across the province,” love said. “You can’t fix a problem if you aren’t willing to admit it exists. Rather than working to fix these problems, the Sask. Party is spending more time working to cover them up from the public.”
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In a statement from the Ministry of Health, they said the ICU has been closed due to staffing issues in the summer.
“Whenever a staffing shortage is identified, the SHA acts to replace those staff appropriately and as quickly as possible before any pauses or reductions are considered,” the statement read. “However, ICU nurses are specially-trained and there can be challenges staffing these shifts in summer.”
The province said when beds are not available at an existing adult ICU site due to capacity or bypass, the patient will be transferred to one of the other ICU sites where their care needs can be met. As of July 27, the total adult ICU occupancy is at 75 percent.
“The SHA is in the process of adding 250 new and enhanced permanent, full-time health care positions in rural and remote locations across the province,” the statement read.
“To date, nearly 160 of these new or expanded positions have been filled, with work ongoing to fill all the remaining positions.
In the 2023-24 budget, $630,000 was allocated to enhancing staffing capacities at the Yorkton Regional Hospital and the Battlefords Union Hospital. Work is also currently underway on major capital infrastructure improvements to the Battlefords Union Hospital operating room to improve patient care.