The Saskatchewan Health Authority is updating the Saskatchewan’s health system readiness plan, including surge capacity planning and full operations of the SHA’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) starting the week of November 16.
“We have both offensive and defensive strategies in place that our teams have been working on and adapting since the onset of the pandemic. Surge capacity planning has never stopped,” said Scott Livingstone, Chief Executive Officer. “But with the recent significant rise in cases and hospitalizations, we determined that a fully operational EOC will ensure strong central coordination of those efforts and to signal that we are mobilizing all available resources to combat COVID-19.”
The SHA continues to strengthen its pandemic response and address pressures in key priority areas, including testing, HealthLine 811, contact tracing, entryway screening, laboratory processing and to support staff cohorting requirements. To date, approximately 550 positions have been filled. These numbers change regularly as additional needs are identified and recruitment and hiring occur.
Unprecedented growth in demand in these areas as a result of COVID-19 will not permit the SHA to meet these pressures solely through the labour market. Redeployment of staff, particularly to meet high demand for contact tracing and to address surges in our hospitals and safety in our long term care facilities, is required. This will necessitate targeted, localized, time-limited service slow downs in the days and weeks ahead to support re-deployment of staff to high priority areas and to reduce pressures on acute care services.
“While we will have some service slow downs at times to effectively respond to COVID-19 and ensure our system remains prepared for a sustained surge through the winter months, I want to underline that we are not going back to the across-the-board service slow downs that occurred in spring 2020,” said Livingstone. “Those actions were taken out of an abundance of caution to respond to a virus we knew little about at that point. Our approach now will be to make any service disruptions targeted, localized and as time-limited as possible to ensure Saskatchewan citizens are still getting the health services they need.”
Details on service slow downs or disruptions will be announced as they are identified and implemented.
With the recent surge in cases, the SHA is reminding the public that the primary factor in enabling the health system to meet the demand created by the COVID-19 virus is actions taken by Saskatchewan residents to stop the spread. Please help us by physical distancing, washing your hands regularly, limiting your bubble as much as possible, abiding by all public health orders and wearing a mask whenever you are in public indoor settings. At this time, it is essential for all residents to stay home if they are feeling even the mildest symptoms as an increasing number of cases are residents going to work when sick.
Background Information on the EOC:
SHA’s EOC was fully operational from March until June 2020. Since that time, the SHA has had a Public Health Incident Command Centre in place to focus on the offensive strategies (i.e. testing, contact racing, outbreak management), while the SHA’s more traditional service lines like acute care, continuing care, and primary health care focused on resuming regular services and maintaining the SHA’s various acute care surge plans (i.e. the defensive strategies).
The EOC will centralize these functions to mobilize and coordinate resources to strengthen the SHA’s Health System Readiness Plan (i.e. both offensive and defensive strategies) to respond to the potential for sustained high COVID case counts over the winter months. The overall aim is to contain, delay and mitigate COVID-19 cases as much as possible through the SHA’s offensive strategies while ensuring we have the capacity to care for both COVID-19 patients and others requiring emergency and urgent care.
Background Information on the SHA’s Health System Readiness Plan:
The SHA maintains a Health System Readiness Plan that the EOC will now be responsible for updating and strengthening in the weeks ahead. The latest status updates from this plan include: