Saskatoon

Saskatoon hospitals hit overcapacity due to flu

Saskatoon's St. Paul's Hospital and Royal University Hospital are at a "critical overcapacity situation," according to the Saskatoon Health Region.

Influenza and seasonal illness increase patient demands, sends home hospital workers

The Saskatoon Health Region is dealing with overcapacity issues. (CBC News)

Saskatoon's St. Paul's Hospital and Royal University Hospital are at a "critical overcapacity situation," according to the Saskatoon Health Region.

The health region says influenza and other seasonal illnesses are bringing in more patients to the hospital. 

"We've kind of felt like we were one patient away from being in a bad situation," Sandra Blevins, vice president of Integrated Health Services, said on Thursday afternoon.

Blevins said that at the start of the morning there were 35 people waiting to be admitted at RUH and 70 in the emergency department for active treatment. By the afternoon, the number of active patients in emergency had only dropped to 60.

"When we are that full there's no space for them to really work," Blevins added.

Sandra Blevins, Vice-President of Integrated Health Services, says the health region has seen a surge in patients. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)
She said a team was brought into RUH and St.Paul's.  The team worked to pull patients out of the emergency department into a safe care setting, in order to give the emergency department some physical space to work and take incoming patients. Blevins said "it gave a little bit of a first breath" but there is still work to do.

"We have quite a large number of medicine patients, our intensive care areas are very full, our pediatric intensive care is full, our pediatrics is full, and our psychiatry and mental health is also very full across the system," she said. 

"We are experiencing that really across the province."

At the same time, many hospital employees are getting sick and staying home. Blevins said they are trying to bring staff in because their predictive model for the flu season shows approximately seven more days of a high level of activity before the flu starts to come down.

This isn't the first time the health region has run into overcapacity issues.

Last year, the Saskatoon Health Region postponed non-emergency surgeries to deal with and study overcapacity issues. Blevins said that they postponed two surgeries on Thursday because of issues of access to post-operative care.

Last year, health region president Dan Florizone promised an end to hallway medicine, the commonly-used term for putting patients in inappropriate places such as overcrowded patient rooms.

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