The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is donating 100 ventilators from across the province, along with other jurisdictions from across Canada, in a humanitarian effort to help India with its escalating COVID-19 situation.
In preparing for the pandemic last spring, Saskatchewan acquired a number of ventilators as part of surge planning.
“In the spring of 2020, planning allowed us to acquire additional ventilators to add to our current provincial fleet, ensuring that we had enough ventilators for the increase in ICU beds that were planned as part of our pandemic ICU response,” said Lori Garchinski, Executive Director, Provincial Programs – Tertiary Care. “We saw an opportunity to put some of those machines to good use, and considering we still have more than 650 province-wide that are available with only 97 of them currently in use, we are confident we can maintain our capacity to meet our provincial needs.”
Ventilators allow for oxygenation and gas exchange for patients, including those who suffer from COVID-19 and can no longer breathe on their own due to the virus. They help support the lungs while the lungs are fighting and then recovering from COVID pneumonias. With the introduction of the variants of concerns in Saskatchewan, Garchinski says some facilities have seen up to 40 per cent of hospitalized patients require ICU care with ventilator support.
“In the absence of being able to put a patient on a ventilator, there would be instances where those patients would not survive their infection,” she said. “This is why it’s so important to get the machines to where they can do the most good.”
The machines, including five from the federal stock supply sent to the province, represent an approximate $3.6 million donation of equipment to the humanitarian effort that began their long journey abroad on Wednesday. Thirty of the ventilators are used for critical care patients and the remaining 70 can be used for non-invasive ventilation.
Some of the ventilators that were carefully wrapped up for their long journey to India from Saskatchewan.
Distributions teams in Regina and Saskatoon packed up ventilators for shipping to India earlier this month. Here the Saskatoon team stands with a ready-to-ship pallet. Left to right: Nicholas Sun, Cheryl Wudrich, Thomas Paproski and Jason Paproski.
In Regina, Armand Palmero (left) and Jean-Guy Dauphinais pack up ventilators.