Every day across Saskatoon Health Region, dedicated staff, physicians and volunteers strive to provide the best possible care and service to our patients, clients and residents. Despite our efforts, we are not always able to provide exceptional service and meet the needs and expectations of those we serve. This week, a great deal of attention has been placed on the challenges we face every day to provide timely access to emergency services, smooth patient flow and resident-centred long term care.

Maura Davies, President and CEO, Saskatoon Health Region

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region

Overcrowding in our urban emergency departments is a symptom of larger system issues. Too many people turn to emergency departments for care that is more appropriately provided in the community by primary health care teams. Patients often wait too long to be admitted to a hospital bed because the beds are already occupied by people who have completed their acute care stay but are awaiting long term care or other community services. Another factor is the growing number of people in our region. Urban patient days have increased 8.4 per cent compared to this time last year.

Our hospitals are always busy but last week the situation reached a critical point which required extraordinary efforts by many people to unjam the system. The situation remains very difficult and we continue to work hard to provide appropriate care in the appropriate setting.

On October 1, the Minister of Health released information related to deficiencies in long term care across the province and plans to begin to address them. The issues related to long term care are not new. We know that many long term care residents are very frail and have complex care needs. Staffing levels in Saskatchewan care homes are lower than in most other provinces. Many care homes are old and aren’t designed or equipped for the model of care we want to provide and our residents and families deserve. The number of seniors in our province continues to grow and our services are currently not able to meet their needs.

These quality issues are not a reflection of a lack of commitment by the Region or our staff. We all want to provide exceptional service every day for every patient, client and resident. We will always be challenged to provide quality care within limited resources. Over the next weeks and months we will finalize short and medium term plans to improve patient flow and make tangible improvements in how we deliver long term care. These plans will include strategies to enhance home care through the $2 million Home First fund for Saskatoon Health Region announced by the Minister. Some solutions will require additional resources and we will continue discussions with government about this.

Being in the spotlight can be a good thing. We may be “feeling the heat” but increased public awareness of the issues we face can be a positive force for change.

As always I welcome your feedback and advice on these and other matters. I can be reached directly at Maura.Davies@saskatoonhealthregion.ca.

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region
306-655-7720
Maura.Davies@saskatoonhealthregion.ca