Saskatchewan planning to send 2 to 4 ICU patients daily to Ontario starting next week

Strict COVID-19 measures are urgently needed in Saskatchewan, where new modelling paints a distressing picture of the crisis unfolding in hospitals. As Heather Yourex-West explains, at least six patients have been sent out of province for care, and some of them don't even have COVID-19.

Leadership from Saskatchewan’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) announced on Friday that “roughly” two to four COVID-19 patients are expected to be transferred to Ontario daily, starting next week.

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Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) president Marlo Pritchard added that this is subject to change.

Late Friday afternoon, the Saskatchewan government released a statement that PEOC has confirmed Ontario has the capacity to receive up to nine additional patients early next week.

The statement said up to three patients are expected to be transferred to Ontario per day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

So far, six intensive care unit patients have been transferred to Ontario hospitals and three more are scheduled to transfer between Friday and Sunday.

Pritchard added these transfers are being made to reduce strain on the province’s health-care system.

As of Friday, there are 80 COVID-19 ICU patients in Saskatchewan hospitals.

“There is a great deal of planning that is done by critical care teams both in Saskatchewan and Ontario in order to facilitate these transfers and ensure they are done safely,” Pritchard said.

The Saskatchewan government released a statement on Thursday stating that out-of-province transfers are “contingent on several factors.”

This includes ICU capacity, clinical assessment and identification of appropriate patients, severe weather, and other unforeseen events.

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Pritchard said the provincial emergency operations centre continues to hold meetings with the federal government, including Public Safety Canada. He said good progress has been made so far.

“I expect to have more information soon about having boots on the ground at some point next week,” Pritchard told reporters.

Pritchard also confirmed that currently the focus is on moving COVID-19 patients out of the province, rather than non-COVID-19 patients.

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