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It will be months before Saskatchewan health care can cope, Regina doctor says

It will take months for Saskatchewan’s health-care system to be able to handle non-COVID-19 medical procedures, according to an infectious disease physician in Regina.

But Dr. Alex Wong said it will take even longer for health-care staff to recover.

“I’ve heard a lot of this sentiment from a lot of my ICU colleagues, especially nurses and respiratory therapists on the front line,” he told Global News.

“They don’t want to do this anymore. They just do not want to do this anymore.”

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Wong said the decreasing rate of daily case counts and hospitalizations may mean the fourth wave of the pandemic has peaked.

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And he said the transfers of COVID patients to Ontario helped free up capacity in the intensive care units.

But October was the deadliest month of the pandemic in Saskatchewan, with 156 people dying from COVID-19 or complications from the disease.

He said the numbers don’t tell the whole story, and that it will take time for the workers and system to be able to function normally again.

“The amount of death, the amount of suffering, the amount of chaos that the health-care system had to deal with, especially people in critical care and in the ICUs, was unmeasurable,” he said.

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On Friday Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) Marlo Pritchard told reporters the leadership of the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC), which coordinates the provinces’ response, didn’t expect to transfer any patients past this week.

“Everyone is breathing a lot easier now than, say, a week and a half (or) two weeks ago, just when the transfers were starting,” Wong said.

Eden Janzen said she hopes that means she can get medical attention sooner.

Janzen is 25 and was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2016. A year later she said her kidneys failed and were reduced to seven per cent functionality. She started dialysis and has been hoping for a transplant since then.

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But she needs to be healthier before the SHA will allow her to undergo surgery, she said.

She told Global News she’s suffered physical and mental health ailments, including a blot clot and a broken femur.

“It’s just in the last four years, my health has gone so downhill and the more downhill it goes, the harder it’s going to be for me to get a kidney,” she said.

“It’s going to be like a year or a year and a half process just to get on the list. So I don’t know how long the suspension is going to be,” she added, referring to the SHA’s announcement last September that it was cancelling all transplant procedures.

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She said she’s scared afraid of what a long wait might mean for her.

Global News asked the PEOC, SHA and health ministry if they would take any further action to help hospitals.

No one responded by deadline.

Janzen said she will keep waiting, and hoping, she and the health-care system can handle her treatment soon.

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“I’m still waking up every day, I’m still going to keep going,” she said, “but COVID has been so unpredictable.”

She said she wasn’t hopeful she’d get a transplant soon.

Wong said the provincial government is responsible for state of the health-care system at its most dire and the after effects, stating Saskatchewan had the worst response to the pandemic in the country.

“We just waited too long and we didn’t listen to our public health officials, and we just didn’t do what needed to be done,” he said.

Modelling still shows hospitalization increasing, and Wong said there will likely be a seasonal component to COVID going forward. He said the province needs to be vigilant going forward, and that more people need to get vaccinated.

“We can’t do what we did this time and just wait and just hope because this is the result.”

He said getting children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be a huge step towards cutting transmission and freeing up hospitals.

“We’re into a new phase now, (where) the primary goal… is to prevent a fifth wave,” he said.

“God help us and preventing that fifth wave.”

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SHA launches ‘Faces of the Fight’ campaign to help curb continuing spread of COVID-19


SHA launches ‘Faces of the Fight’ campaign to help curb continuing spread of COVID-19 – Oct 5, 2021

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