Sask. and Ont. officials disagreeing over number of ICU patient transfers

Saskatchewan’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre said there are no plans to transfer more than six patients to Ontario as of Wednesday morning – contradicting information provided by health officials in Ontario.

Ontario Health executive vice president Dr. Chris Simpson told CP24 on Tuesday there are plans in place to transfer an additional six patients throughout Thursday and Friday – which would bring the total number of patient transfers from Saskatchewan to 12.

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said that is not the case.

“I'm not sure where that number came from. I can't speak to what they say,” Pritchard said. “We have shipped out three, we will be shipping out a further three, and we are planning and continuing to assess moving forward.”

Pritchard said the number of patients being sent out of the province can change based on demand over the coming days.

On Monday, the province confirmed six intensive care patients from the province will be sent to Ontario. Moe also said the province requested specialized ICU support from Ottawa.

Dr. Simpson told CP24 that Ontario can easily accommodate a dozen patients from Saskatchewan.

“Bringing just 12 patients here has very little impact on our overall operations, we can easily accommodate that within our current infrastructure without moving health human resources around,” he said. “It really makes all the difference in the world to the Saskatchewan health system by freeing up those beds for patients who might be victims of motor vehicle crashes or who require surgery.”

Saskatchewan hospitals have suspended all organ transplants, neurosurgery and intensive cardiac care to focus resources on COVID-19 patients.

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe apologized to residents impacted by significant health service slowdowns related to COVID-19.

There are 335 residents receiving hospital treatment for COVID-19 in Saskatchewan as of Tuesday’s update, with 83 of those people in intensive care. The province said 75 per cent of hospitalized patients were not fully vaccinated.

In Ontario – a province with 12 times the population – there are 258 COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized. Of those people, 159 are in intensive care.

With files from CP24’s Chris Fox.