Weyburn hospital will be a ‘non-COVID’ facility

Saskatchewan Health Authority releases health system readiness model for COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) released their health system readiness model on Wednesday during a presentation that covered varied outcomes for different levels of COVID-19 outbreak in Saskatchewan.

The presentation used three separate variable models of different varieties to show the impact the outbreak could have on Saskatchewan’s health care system.

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A part of the presentation was a listing of which health care facilities in the province will be designated as a COVID-19 hospital, Non-COVID-19 hospital, those with a temporary conversion to alternate level of care, and locations where primary health care services are reduced. These changes will be phased in as required by patient demand and safety.

The Weyburn General Hospital will be a Non-COVID-19 hospital where non-COVID-19 patients will be admitted and emergency services will be kept open. Estevan’s St. Joseph Hospital will also be a non-COVID hospital, while Redvers will be designated as a COVID-19 hospital for the southeast.

Facilities in Radville, Arcola and Oxbow will have primary care services reduced with care provided through alternate means like virtual care.

The SHA said the dynamic modelling is not a prediction, it provides a range of “what if” scenarios to guide planning going forward.

“We are learning from the experience of other provinces and around the world,” the presentation said.

“Modelling scenarios are based on our best knowledge at this time and will continue to be updated with Saskatchewan data.”

For all three scenarios, the key variable used to predict numbers were a high range, meaning one person could infect up to four people with the virus, a mid range where one person could infect 2.76, and a low range where one could infect 2.4.

According to the SHA, in a high-range estimate, 4,265 COVID-19 patients will require acute care simultaneously. Of those hospitalized, 1,280 COVID-19 patients will be in the ICU with 90-95 per cent requiring ventilation.

On the low side, the SHA presentation said at peak, 390 patients will need to be in an acute care hospital simultaneously. Of those hospitalized, 120 patients will be in the ICU with 90-95 per cent requiring ventilation.

The presentation said on the high end of the model, the province could see up to 408,000 total cases with 215 ICU admissions daily and a cumulative total of 8,370 deaths. On the low end, there could be 153,000 total cases with 20 ICU admissions daily and up to 3,075 deaths.

According to the SHA, the current demand for daily ICU across Saskatchewan is 57 beds with 98 total capacity. For acute care, there is a daily demand of 1,396 with a total capacity of 2,433.

The SHA’s model said total ICU patients at peak are estimated to be 890 across the province. The model added the co-ordinated provincial approach will see critical care patients from rural and north Saskatchewan admitted to urban sites when local ICU capacity is exceeded.

In addition, the SHA currently has 450 ventilators available to meet COVID-19 model demands for low and mid-range scenarios. The planned capacity ventilator requirement of 860 creates a gap of 410, but the SHA added there are confirmed orders for 200 with 100 expected n the next two to three weeks.

The presentation said the SHA has based their response to COVID-19 on a strategy of contain, delay, mitigate and population health promotion.

“Our goal is to promote health, prevent disease and ensure healthcare services are available.”

The SHA said their key strategies for public health are to increase testing, identify cases early, expand contact tracing and enforcing chief medical health officer orders.

The key strategies to further their approach are expanding Healthline, delivering more services through virtual care models of which 750 clinicians are set up, and expanding testing and assessment centres.

There are currently 38 SHA operated testing sites across the province, five assessment sites in operation with 21 planned to open in coming weeks.