OHS Canada Magazine

Saskatoon children’s hospital opens intensive care unit to adults with COVID-19

Avatar photo

September 23, 2021
By The Canadian Press

Health & Safety COVID-19 ICU saskatchewan

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan’s only children’s hospital is opening its pediatric intensive care unit to younger adults who have COVID-19 as the province runs out of critical care beds.

The Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon has begun accepting patients under the age of 40 as the province works to expand its ICU bed capacity, including at the children’s hospital.

“Critical care capacity is under strain and all avenues of support need to be explored so we can continue to care for extremely ill patients,” Dr. Susan Shaw, chief medical officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said Wednesday.

The health authority said two adults had been admitted to the children’s hospital, but no children were being displaced.

“Our … team has the skills and expertise to expand our services to a select group of the adult population, taking pressure off the greater system,” Dr. Tanya Holt, division head of pediatric Intensive care and Transport for the health authority, said in a statement.


“We have been thoughtful in building our surge plan, keeping children the priority and in simulating our responses to adult care.”

The Opposition urged the Saskatchewan Party government to ask the military for help with the province’s pandemic response, as Alberta has done.

“Other provinces have called for support from the military, and leaned on the federal government for support when their health systems were overwhelmed,” said NDP health critic Vicki Mowat.

“We need leadership that is proactively maintaining capacity, not reacting when things get to a point of no return. It’s time to admit we need help now before it’s too late.”

Premier Jason Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday that his government was working on a plan to send COVID-19 patients to other provinces if needed. Due to its own lack of resources, Saskatchewan is not accepting patients from Alberta.

A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence said there had not been a request for federal assistance to support COVID-19 efforts in Saskatchewan.

In a statement, Saskatchewan’s Health Minister Paul Merriman said his government had not sent a request, because the health authority has been able to create more space for intensive care patients.

Should there be an application, the federal government can provide help in a number of ways.

“The number of resources can fluctuate based on the provincial government’s needs outlined in the request for assistance. For example, the federal response to certain situations could include help from the Red Cross, or the Canadian military, or having federal aid sent, or a combination of certain elements,” National Defence said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Health Authority previously told The Canadian Press that no ICU patients had been sent out of the province during the fourth wave.

STARS air ambulance, however, said it was asked by the Saskatchewan government to staff another helicopter for a period of time. Its primary role would be to transfer COVID-19 patients.

Health care in Saskatchewan remains under extreme pressure as the province deals with record hospitalizations of those who are predominately unvaccinated.

Saskatchewan normally has 79 ICU beds, but is building space to make room for up to 175.

On Wednesday, the province broke another record for hospitalizations with 265 COVID-19 patients in care, 54 of them in intensive care.

There were 426 new cases and five more deaths from the virus.

By Mickey Djuric in Regina


Stories continue below