Sask. facing health staffing 'crisis,' nurses union president says
SASKATOON -- Dr. Mahli Brindamour says the tone of a town hall discussion with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) on Thursday was “very different” compared to government’s press conferences of optimism.
“I was left very worried about the future and very scared about the lack of resources we’re facing as health care providers,” said Brindamour, a Saskatoon pediatrician.
Physicians were briefed on a plan for field hospitals. Field hospitals are set up at Saskatoon’s Merlish Belsher Place and Regina’s Evraz Place, but will only be used as a “last-resort,” according to the SHA.
Field hospitals are meant to house patients that don’t need the level of service offered in an acute setting, but still need to be monitored or require oxygen.
Should field hospitals be needed, the SHA says doctors and nurses will be redeployed.
The number of active cases and hospitalizations are up nearly 400 per cent in the past month, according to the physician town hall slide show.
The slides also show an exponential uptick of ICU demand. Saskatoon’s current ICU demand is at 126 per cent capacity.
While Brindamour is a pediatrician, she could be deployed to a field hospital to serve adult COVID-19 patients.
“I will do what is needed and I’m happy to do this. It’s my personality to show up and help, and I know my colleagues will do the same — I know that, and I trust that,” said Brindamour, who Is married to NDP Leader Ryan Meili.
“But this is not a situation we want to happen … and it certainly looks like we’re going in that direction.”
The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) said the rejigging of staff is going to pressure an already tight staffing situation.
“COVID has made staffing worse. We are now in a human health resource crisis,” SUN President Tracy Zambory told CTV News.
To redeploy staff to the field hospitals, there must be a significant slowdown of services, according SHA emergency operations chief Derek Miller.
Zambory is calling for officials to release a detailed plan about which services will be reduced.
“We need to have a very serious, decisive action plan to start scaling back,” she said.
Both Zambory and Brindamour urged the public to do their part — to keep their social circles small, and only leave the home when necessary — in an effort to relieve pressures on the health care system.
Saskatoon and Regina’s field hospitals have a combined capacity of 650 beds.