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Home Covid-19 Merriman defends dismantled field hospitals as COVID-19 again dominates question period

Merriman defends dismantled field hospitals as COVID-19 again dominates question period

In a question period again dominated by Opposition criticism of the Saskatchewan government’s COVID-19 response, Health Minister Paul Merriman was asked to defend a decision made in June to decommission pandemic field hospitals.

“Why dismantle the field hospitals when you knew they were going to be needed?” asked Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili in the chamber Monday, referencing June 15 COVID-19 modelling that predicted a spike in cases over the following months.

In response, Merriman said “the recommendation for dismantling” the two field hospitals came from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. He said the recent need for ICU-patient transfer to Ontario arose from a shortage of skilled health-care workers rather than beds or equipment.

“Those field hospitals were dismantled but we made sure the human resources were in the right place at the right time.”

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Read more:
Saskatchewan Health to decommission COVID-19 field hospitals in coming weeks

Speaking to reporters following question period, Merriman said the equipment and beds set up in the field hospitals were redistributed around the province after the closures.

“The modelling we had at that time, which was the first modelling that we’d ever seen, was very scary numbers. We wanted to be prepared for that,” Merriman added.

Located in Saskatoon at Merlis Belsher Place and the International Trade Centre in Regina, the field hospitals were set up to support about 300 to 650 patients combined if needed. They were set up early in the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with potential increased patient volumes.

Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone in June that “the creation of these field hospitals were an essential component of our defensive strategy. And while we continue to monitor COVID hospitalizations and ensure surge plans are in place, we believe field hospitals no longer need to be part of those plans, and are very pleased that we never had to use them.”

Read more:
COVID-19: Active cases lowest in over 2 months as Saskatchewan adds 3 new deaths

Meili also again used question period to suggest the government could have acted sooner to enact mask and vaccine mandates and to request federal assistance to bolster health care staffing. Merriman used his responses to thank health care workers and tout the recent activation of the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.

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“Part of their process is to reach out to other provinces and other states to see if there’s help,” he said, adding the province has been in constant

NDP Municipal Affairs critic Matt Love, meanwhile, asked why Government Relations Minister Don McMorris indicated to Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark that a proposed bylaw limiting gatherings in the city would not be supported by the province. The bylaw was eventually voted down by Saskatoon city council.

“Why is this government stopping the city of Saskatoon form taking the public health leadership that experts are calling for?” he asked

McMorris responded that “cities have the responsibility of their own facilities”.

“They can determine how many people can attend a concert, for example. We have the responsibility on so many other fronts, such as health care. The city of Saskatoon knew what the response would be and I think that was reflected in their vote.”

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman defends actions as COVID-19 surges in province

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman defends actions as COVID-19 surges in province – Sep 29, 2021

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