Saskatchewan health-care shortages putting ‘patients at risk,’ doctors say

Concerned physicians in Saskatchewan are pointing out all the pressures the health-care system is dealing with.

Dr. John Stempien, the provincial head of emergency medicine in Saskatchewan, says emergency department beds at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon are full.

Read more:

‘We can’t negotiate with ourselves’: Scott Moe calls for meeting at premiers’ news conference

Stempien says the hospital has about 45 beds in the emergency department and will be filled with people normally taking up a bed in the upstairs wards.

He said this has been an issue stretching into other hospitals and has been going on for months now.

“So when we have either an admitted patient or a consulted patient those beds are no longer available to the emergency physicians to see patients. So, for us it’s a patient safety issue,” Stempien said.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'Code Blue: No quick fix amid staffing shortages, surgical backlogs in Canada’s healthcare system'

Code Blue: No quick fix amid staffing shortages, surgical backlogs in Canada’s healthcare system

He said he’s concerned they can’t give the proper level of care to patients.

“It puts those patients at risk and is extremely hard on the emergency physicians and nurses who are trying to do their best and care for every patient.”

Stempien also noted instances of rudeness and sometimes violence aimed at front-line workers.

“I think there’s been a slow but steady increase in a level of impoliteness or almost violence directed against some of our front-line staff, which has been very difficult as well.”

Stempien said because of respiratory illnesses, hospital numbers are up, but added that the measurement of how sick patients are coming into the hospital is also higher.

He noted that could be for a number of reasons, adding that people could be holding back from going to the hospital because they know ERs are busy, or it could be because people are having trouble accessing family doctors.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:

Regina 1-year-old battling ‘rare case’ of RSV

Residents in Saskatchewan have been struggling to find family doctors, with some being left to hunt for a doctor for several months.

Dr. John Gjevre, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, said the province has experienced a movement of physicians “for a variety of reasons.”

“I suspect it’s common, normal movement. There was, of course, a drop in movement during the start of the pandemic,” Gjevre said.

Click to play video: 'After years of frustration, Regina doctor closing clinic doors'

After years of frustration, Regina doctor closing clinic doors

He added that the health-care system was static for a period of time, but said there are more opportunities for physicians to move now.

Gjevre noted that there is an overarching issue, however.

Story continues below advertisement

“Clearly there is a crisis in primary care. And this is not just a Saskatchewan problem, it’s a national problem.”

Read more:

B.C. senior takes out ad in desperate quest to find a doctor for her husband

He said there’s a lack of family physicians across the country, noting that the reasons are complicated.

Gjevre said part of the issue is fewer medical students are going into family medicine residencies, and some physicians during the pandemic have been burnt or retired early.

He said he wants to work with the government to rebuild the foundation of health care.

“Family medicine is the foundation for health care, and without that foundation, the rest of the structure becomes very shaky.”

“Ideally everyone has a family physician, and everybody has health care close to home,” Gjevre added.

Gjevre noted there have been talks with the government to address health care, which include trying to find new and innovative ways to provide care.

He gave an example of a team-based approach where a family physician helps a patient find the health care they need, whether that be a social worker, a physiotherapist, a surgeon or a pharmacist.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:

Saskatchewan starting to see steady availability of children’s pain medication

Gjevre said it would be a variety of other health-care providers working with a family physician to “optimize health care for the patient.”

He said this is a concept that’s been spread across Canada and works in other jurisdictions.

Gjevre said an IT process that works across the province and is accessible to all health-care providers would be very helpful as well.

“If you see an ear doctor in Lanigan, and they put something into the chart, and then you’re seen by a specialist in Regina, they have access to that.”

He said a similar process already exists in Alberta, but added that they could improve upon that.

Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan Health Authority for comment and received the following statement:

“Saskatchewan is following and monitoring the situation across the country and monitoring the impact here in the province. Response plans are being readied to ensure Saskatchewan hospitals are prepared to meet the needs of children and families should we experience the same level of surge occurring in other provinces,” the statement read.

“Seven additional beds, five in the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital and two in Regina General Hospital, have been staffed to increase access to care for children. We have also added incremental care staff at peak times into areas that are seeing increased utilization, such as the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.

Story continues below advertisement

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority aims to ensure that every child, regardless of need or geography, has access to timely and appropriate care.

“To date, our planning and preparation aim to increase access to acute care without impacting other child health programs. Slowdowns will be a last resort in the planning phases. This includes ensuring teams in rural Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina are all prepared and working together in a supportive network.”

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Blue Shield of California Introduces at-Home Care Services to Accommodate Members’ Busy Lives | Blue Shield of California
Next post Ontario preschooler airlifted 350 km from home due to full local hospital