The creation of a new area at Pasqua Hospital for people suspected of having COVID-19 not only provides a safe place for patients to isolate while waiting for their test results, but ensures beds in other areas of the hospital remain open.
“It allows flow through the emergency department; it allows the system to keep more beds open; and it also allows the right bed for the right patient,” said Marlee Cossette, whose duties include managing the Patients Under Investigation (PUI) area.
The area, which opened in January, is part of the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s surge plan, developed in the spring of 2020. PUI patients come to the area from the emergency departments at Regina General and Pasqua hospitals. These patients are transferred here because they have COVID-like symptoms and must be isolated while being tested for the virus. The PUI area has a maximum of 22 private rooms which allows for patients to be isolated and which reduces the risk of virus transmission to other patients and staff.
Some of the staff supporting the Patients Under Investigation area.
Isolating patients under investigation creates added pressure within the health system. Establishing the PUI area has helped alleviate some of these pressures by creating a dedicated space for these patients.
“We would take a room where we could have put two patients and close it and then place one patient who requires isolation due to COVID-19 in there, which means a lost bed to the system,” said Sherilyn Bray, director, site lead for Pasqua Hospital and support to the Medicine Inpatient Unit director. “This meant other patients who didn’t need to be isolated weren’t getting those beds. This impacted patients waiting in emergency who could wait a number of hours for a bed.”
Bray noted establishing the PUI area is a more strategic approach that supports the health care system in flexing and adapting to the evolving pandemic environment.
“Opening up the area allows us to better meet the demands of patients because we have more beds available overall,” she said.
Sherilyn Bray and Marlee Cossette want to commend the staff working in the PUI area of Pasqua Hospital for tackling what could be a nerve-wracking assignment with grace and good humour.
All members of the 20-person team created in January have been deployed from another area of the organization via the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA’s) labour pool. Members include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and office assistants who have taken on unit clerk duties.
Bray and Cossette applaud each one of them for their moxy in taking on these new tasks.
“This is work they haven’t done for a while,” said Bray. “It takes a lot of effort, and a lot of courage, to work differently. I commend them for doing what’s needed to take care of our patients."
Added Cossette, “They’ve risen to the occasion. We want to recognize these people for pulling together and coming to work every day and doing their best. It takes a strong team with a lot of strength of character to make a venture like this successful.”