- Due to the Omicron variant, SHA has updated its COVID-19 rise plan to account for the expected increase in demand and staff absenteeism.
- According to Department of Health officials, the plan will allow human resources to ramp up capacity in stages as demand grows.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has informed its COVID-19 rise plan to account for the expected rise in demand and staff absenteeism due to the Omicron variant.
According to health officials, this plan includes five key strategies that will ensure Saskatchewan patients obtain the best possible care.
Officials will form a group of medical professionals, dubbed “Go Teams,” who will be deployed to help ensure the continuity of crucial services in Saskatchewan.
Optimizing acute care capacity and emergency department flow, maintaining EMS enhancements to handle additional demand, implementing human resource strategies such as cross-training staff to meet various system needs, and utilizing Supplemental Workforce Teams are all part of the plan. When and where needed, the surge plan will be time-limited for targeted service slowdowns when and where needed.
“This is a proactive strategy that would be implemented in the province saw a significant rise in acute care patients at hospitals, or whether the healthcare system encountered potential staffing shortages in a scenario where large numbers of healthcare professionals were needed to self-isolate due to COVID,” said Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).
Officials from the Department of Health said the plan would ensure that human resources can ramp up capacity in stages as demand grows. Any service disruptions would be as brief and targeted as possible.
“We know it will influence our healthcare teams as we scale up to meet the increased demand due to Omicron,” said Derek Miller, interim chief operating officer and lead for SHA’s emergency service.
“These strategies will help protect our ability to provide critical life-saving support to those in need, ensure that any service disruptions are as brief as possible, and position us to quickly and safely restore services as pressures subside.”
The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of consultations on the surge plans.
“Surge plans in a system that we’re utilizing in a wait-and-see approach, we don’t have the ability for any more care,” Tracy Zambory explained. “We’ve reached a tipping point, and our emergency rooms are at capacity.” Because we got so far behind in the fourth wave, we’ve got individuals in the hospital with illnesses that aren’t COVID-related.”
Given that Saskatchewan has yet to retrieve from the 4th COVID-19 wave, Zambory believes the province is in for a difficult time.
“On this issue, we need some concrete leadership,” she said. “All we have to do now is expect what’s coming and accept it?” That’s easy to say if you’re not the one trying to keep everything together on the front lines. That is not the way to handle a pandemic.”
Barbara Cape, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) West, is pleased that the SHA is preparing a surge plan ahead of time, but she has some reservations.
“My concern is that the pandemic and various surges have exposed the healthcare system’s critical staffing issues for so damn long,” Cape said. “On the one hand, I’m glad they’re thinking about it, but this isn’t a one-time deal.” In the healthcare system, we need to do a better job with staffing.”
Additional updates on any service changes that may be required as demand grows, according to health officials, will be provided.
Source: Global news