High COVID-19 demand in some hospitals in Saskatchewan is still delaying some healthcare services

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said it had resumed nearly half of the health care services that were cut during the province’s fourth wave of COVID-19.

It said high hospitalization rates in urban areas are preventing remaining services from reopening.

Dr Saqib Shahab, the province’s health director, said on Tuesday: “We are not out of the woods yet for our fourth wave.

“It will take longer to reduce our hospitalizations.”

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As of this week, 193 of the 395 services that were cut since September 1 were back up and running, with another 68 partially back online.

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Services include pediatric programs, home care, medical imaging, and therapies. Additionally, the province said it is aiming to bring the organ donation program back up next week.

The health authority says surgeries are also on the rise across the province, although rural areas are seeing a faster return than Regina and Saskatoon.

Derek Miller, director of the administration’s emergency operations center, said it was due to higher demand for COVID-19 care in cities.

“We really need to see those things come down to the rest of it to start getting us back to normal,” Miller said.

Modeling has suggested that Saskatchewan’s healthcare system won’t return to sustainable levels until mid-January.

The province has faced one of the harshest Wednesdays in the country after the Saskatchewan Party government lifted COVID-19 measures before the summer and, by its own account, was slow to roll out the system. vaccine passport system and mandatory wearing of masks when cases began to increase.

Lines at intensive care units have moved closer to basic provincial capacity, with 80 patients currently in the ICU. But Miller cautions that unvaccinated populations can still lead to swarms of infection.

“The health system depends on overall COVID transmission and case volume and what that means for hospitalizations, especially ICUs,” Miller said.

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“We have the desire and everyone wants to see the number of cases continue to decline and the hospitals involved to do the same, which will allow us to resume services and regain a sense of normalcy. often.”

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Shahab said getting vaccinated against COVID-19 has helped reduce the number of cases and hospitalizations.

Government data shows that since the province rolled out the vaccine passport system in October, about 200,000 more injections have been given.

“We don’t see the majority of the big transmissions… that’s so important, because we can do a lot with these tools,” says Shahab.

“It’s a much safer situation with a lot of things still open.”

The province’s mask-wearing mandate is expected to expire at the end of the month, although Premier Scott Moe has hinted the public health order will be extended.

Shahab said he wants people to continue wearing masks in the spring. He also recommended that people ask for their vaccine passports at private facilities where it is not required by the government.

Saskatchewan continues to rely heavily on vaccinations to combat a fifth wave, which modeling suggests could be the worst in the province due to high hospitalization rates.

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On Tuesday morning, the first day of booking for Pfizer-BioNTech’s children’s COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan, nearly 10,000 appointments were made online, rapidly crashing the health agency’s vaccine ordering system. economic.

About 700 people have also received a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine since it arrived in the province last week, the health agency said, meeting their expectations.

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