Sask. continues sending COVID-19 patients to Ont., with transfer total to hit 19 Wednesday

If everything goes as planned, Saskatchewan will have moved 19 intensive care patients to Ontario to receive treatment by Wednesday.

The latest figures come from an internal memo prepared by the Ontario Critical Care COVID Command Centre and obtained by CBC News.

Saskatchewan has attempted to alleviate the strain COVID-19 has placed on hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs)  by transferring patients stable enough to be moved to hospitals in Ontario.

The memo from Ontario notes that the transfers are being done to “prevent an overwhelming demand that outstrips local ICU capacity arising from new cases.”

As of Monday there were 293 people in Saskatchewan hospitals, with 71 of them in ICUs. 

That is in addition to the nine cases already transferred to Ontario as of Sunday. 

Three additional patients are set to be transferred by the end of Monday.

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The Ontario memo says that province is preparing to receive four patients on Tuesday and another three on Wednesday. If those transfers happen as planned, 19 patients will have been moved to Ontario. 

Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, would only confirm the number of transfers planned up to Tuesday at a news conference on Monday. 

He said planning was fluid and changing depending on ICU demands. 

The figures obtained by CBC are in line with the government of Saskatchewan saying last week that it was planning to move two to four patients to Ontario every day this week.

Despite patient transfers, ICU capacity is still being pushed to its limit.

ICUs aren’t just taking care of patients infected with COVID-19. The SHA can only take 116 ICU patients in total. 

As of 7:30 a.m. CST on Thursday, the province was reporting 117 people in the province’s ICUs, or one patient above the 116-bed benchmark. As of Thursday, there were an additional 57 COVID-19 patients in hospital receiving high-flow oxygen who would normally be receiving intensive care if there was space available.

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