June 10, 2020

Next Phase of SHA Service Resumption to Start June 16

As Saskatchewan continues to take steps to reopen the economy, the health system continues its methodical and cautious approach to resume everyday health services for the people of the province, with increases in surgical and medical imaging volumes and the addition of services at SHA-operated specialty clinics beginning Tuesday, June 16.

Since service resumption began on May 19, more than 330 health services have now resumed, including harm reduction services, chronic disease management, therapy and rehabilitation services, well-baby checks, immunization services and home care.  All areas met their targets related to surgical resumptions, including in Regina and Saskatoon which are now performing at 45 to 50 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 surgical capacity.

In Phase Two, surgical capacity will increase over the next few weeks to 65-70 per cent provincially, with the inclusion of urgent, emergent and also some elective procedures.  This will vary significantly by site, as some locations like Yorkton Regional Health Centre are already up to 75 per cent of regular volumes as of June 10.

Medical imaging capacity will also continue to increase in Phase Two, targeting 90 per cent of pre-COVID-19 volumes across all services, including MRI and CT scans.  Current service levels reached in Phase One for MRIs and CT scans are up to 83 per cent from approximately 50 per cent at the start of Phase One.

In all service areas, including surgical programs and medical imaging, new required COVID-related precautions around physical distancing, cohorting staff, personal protective equipment usage, and Infection Prevention and Control necessitate gradual service resumption.

“As we safely increase service levels, we are learning to do business in different ways that promote access to services for Saskatchewan residents while still ensuring safety and proper precautions against the spread of COVID-19,” SHA Chief Executive Officer Scott Livingstone said.  “We know that this has meant some adjustments for patients and has resulted in longer waits and extra steps at times.  We continue to express our gratitude to the public for their patience and understanding about the need to take these extra safety measures.”

Virtual care appointments continue to be offered where possible, with some face-to-face services being offered, where needed.  Since initiating expanded virtual care options, as a result of the pandemic in March, 122,000 appointments have been delivered through this option, enabling greater access to care for Saskatchewan residents while helping health care providers fight the spread of COVID-19.

Throughout the month of June, further service resumptions will continue at SHA operated specialty clinics, including such services as sleep disorder testing, cardiac stress testing, eye centre testing and operations, and additional cast clinics, with service levels varying by location and program.

Although June 16 is when many of these services may start, a critical part of SHA’s process is that every service re-introduced must undergo a rigourous process to confirm readiness and safety, including steps to ensure all appropriate COVID-related precautions are in place.

“As we increase the amount of people in our facilities, we need to be extra vigilant and monitor the impact on our health system,” Livingstone said.  “In order to resume services while also continuing to support COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and other strategies to combat the virus, we need to move slowly and cautiously through this process.”

All services are listed on the Saskatchewan Health Authority website, with new services being added each day at www.saskhealthauthority.ca/service-alerts.

Read the SHA’s full service resumption plan (https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/pandemic-planning) released May 5, 2020.