Armed Forces Not Helping Enough Tackling Overcrowded Saskatchewan Hospitals: Doctors

Health workers in Saskatchewan hospitals and intensive care units shaken by the number of COVID-19 cases will be relieved to learn they will receive support from the Canadian military, the chief said. Canadian Medical Association – but it might just be a momentary pause in the battle.

Doctors and medical associations have lambasted provincial leadership over the past week for playing politics during the pandemic and for late or absent public health measures.

Federal politicians tweeted on Friday evening that the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to help hospitals in Saskatchewan. The Armed Forces confirmed to CBC News on Saturday that up to six intensive care nurses will work in intensive care units.

“You know when you need the military’s help, when you have to transfer patients out of the province, when your intensive care doctors tell you they’re starting to use laundry rooms as spaces to treat patients. I think it’s absolutely fair to say that you have a crisis on your hands and it’s a fully hands-on approach, ”Dr. Katherine Smart, President of the National Medical Association, told David Common of CBC on Rosemary Barton Live.

It’s welcome support for now, but without government action, like public health strategies, it’s a surface solution, says Smart.

“Six nurses is really enough to fill two beds in two days. So that certainly won’t solve the problem … the root cause here is the number of COVID cases and the escalating number of cases in the province. “

Doctors like Smart – and the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr Saqib Shahab – have indicated that rallying the limits is the next step to get around the curve. But Smart said the provincial government “refuses to listen” to the advice of medical providers, nurses and the medical officer of health.

That’s why she urged Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to make changes in a strong statement for the citizens of the province who “deserve better.”

She said medical professionals have been calling for action for weeks, only to see hospitals sink further into disarray.

“When you get to the point where you need to move your patients somewhere else, that tells you that your system is collapsing,” she said.

Smart, from Saskatchewan, said it was “heartbreaking” to see people at home feeling “helpless” while waiting for the government to take meaningful action.

CAF is a needed relief for frontline staff

Dr Nazeem Muhajarine agrees with Smart. He said assistance from the Armed Forces, combined with patient transfers to Ontario, is a much needed relief for frontline workers, but it is late and it is not enough.

He mentioned a Twitter post by Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu on September 24 that offered support to Saskatchewan during “this health crisis.”

“It has taken exactly 30 days, until today, to learn that we are getting six Canadian Armed Forces medics,” he said. “And in those 30 days, many lives have been lost in Saskatchewan. “

According to the Canadian government’s epidemiological report, last updated Friday, Saskatchewan has recorded the highest death rate in the past 14 days among the provinces, at about six per day.

“If we had accepted this invitation, which was given 30 days ago… we could have avoided some of these deaths. “

Muhajarine said that while the support is deeply appreciated, he doesn’t think six people are enough to give the province the help it needs, especially in intensive care units that require specialist care.

“We could probably use about six or seven times as much as what we hear today,” he said. “It’s not only kind of having more assistance, but it also relieves people who have been 100% for many days and weeks.”

“Predictable and predictable”

He didn’t need to call for military help, send patients across the country and cancel surgeries, Saskatoon intensive care physician and associate professor Dr. Hassan Masri told Common. of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

He watched the effect of the pandemic on hospitals unfold in front of him and openly expressed his frustration with the government’s response.

“This is something that was completely preventable and predictable: predictable because the lack of public health measures get you here and preventable because public health measures would have prevented us from being here,” Masri said.

The province has already started to sort out its hospital services by limiting procedures and surgeries. Masri said this could escalate if several dozen patients are not transferred out of the province over the next two weeks, especially if the province continues on the same path.

COVID-19 modeling predictions last week foreshadowed a terrible winter without changes in policy and procedure.

“If we don’t move the patients, we’re going to go to a different level of triage, which is very tragic and frightening,” Masri said.

“This is where we literally have to deny people care and where doctors should choose who should live and who should die and who gets that intensive care bed and who doesn’t.”

Doctors, including Masri, on Thursday called on the government to cancel patient transfers despite preparations already made in Saskatchewan and Ontario, according to social media posts.

“We had already selected the patients who were to be transferred on Thursday. And the doctors in Ontario, our colleagues, were already ready to receive patients, ”he said.

“This process was canceled by a member of the government. The government tried to turn it into [though] it was a confusion. There was no confusion. “

In a media statement, the provincial government said it would confirm all transfers of patients out of the province and that “all other sources, such as unofficial and unverified social media posts, should be ignored.” .

Saskatchewan expected two more patient transfers on Saturday and Sunday. Eight patients were transferred to Ontario on Sunday, according to Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 dashboard. Ontario has the capacity to accommodate up to nine patients between Monday and Wednesday, as needed.