SHA develops Omicron surge plan

With the presence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 increasing inside of the province, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has developed an Omicron Surge plan.

The plan contains five key strategies to ensure the patients in Saskatchewan receive the best possible care.

The first strategy is to establish “Go Teams” of medical professionals that can be quickly mobilized to ensure services are maintained for key services. Another part of the plan would be to optimize capacity and emergency department flow. A third aspect of the plan is to maintain enhancements to Emergency Medical Services that have been put in place from previous COVID surge cases. The fourth part of the plan is to implement human resource strategies like cross training. The final point of the plan is to issue time limited , target service slowdowns when needed.

The plan would become active if there is an increase of increase patients in acute care patients in hospitals or if healthcare system is facing staff shortages because of healthcare providers self isolating.

Derek Miller, Chief of Emergency Operations from the Saskatchewan Health Authority says that health care staff absenteeism has increased in the province over the last week. “This is broad across the province, increases in health care worker absenteeism, we do have local practices for people being off on sick time, or other absences where we offer additional shifts through our casual work force, for overtime and bring people in.”

In the surge plan the Sask. Health Authority is anticipating between 15-20 percent of health care workers being absent from work.

The establishment of “Go Teams” is something Miller says has been done in prior waves of the pandemic. “We had identified individuals through slowdowns in services in other areas that would become available to support our response in earlier times and they were largely supporting long term care staff that were off requiring to isolate or they were off sick, make sure the right care providers available.”

The SHA says the Omicron Surge Plan would ensure human resources are available to step up capacity in phases as demand escalates to ensure services and targets are met.

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