What are specialty beds?

While there are several types of specialty beds in Saskatoon Health Region to serve the varying needs of patients, they can be categorized into three main groups: observation beds, isolation beds and telemetry beds.

A hospital bedObservation beds

Observation beds are currently physical bed locations where patients undergo frequent monitoring. This monitoring may be vital signs, neurological monitoring, cardiac monitoring or physical observation.

 Isolation beds

Isolation beds are for patients who require special physical precautions to prevent the spread of an infectious agent from an infected, or at-risk, patient to other susceptible, or at-risk, patients.

 Telemetry beds

Telemetry beds are for patients that need continuous monitoring of their heart or brain. These are beds that must be in a certain physical location, or, are beds with access to specialized portable telemetry equipment.

 How many specialty beds are in Saskatoon’s three hospitals?

The breakdown of the number of these beds is as follows:


Royal University
Hospital (RUH)

St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH)
Saskatoon City Hospital (SCH)
  • 45 beds designated as observation beds including 8 pediatric observation beds
  • 24 beds designated as observation beds
  • 6 beds designated as observation beds
  • 2 EEG telemetry beds on 6300
  • 35 telemetry packs on 6000
  • 5 Telemetry packs from CCU
  • 13 telemetry packs
  • 3 negative pressure rooms
  • 3 negative pressure rooms


Why is the 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day Transitions of Care team looking at specialty beds?

Because currently 60 per cent of patients in RUH and SPH emergency departments needing an observation bed can wait more than five hours to be placed after admission, we need to better understand the existing practices, current guidelines and criteria around specialty bed placement. Currently, there are no consistent principles to assign an observation bed and there are no consistent processes to support timely re-evaluation of whether an observation bed is still required by a patient.

What are the outcomes the team is seeking to achieve?

The team aims to:

  • identify the specific care needs of patients and provide for the patients’ monitoring needs in a safe manner without moving and without waiting for a specific geographical location/designated specialty bed
  • decrease patient transfers that are done to make room for a specialized bed
  • decrease wait times in the emergency department for a specialty bed

What has the team trialed so far?

The team is working on several Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycles, trialing tools to gather data and better understand the demand for specialty beds. For example, on the 5000 unit at Royal University Hospital, the team is using a PASS (patient assessment scoring system) tool to transition patients out of an observation bed. The teams are also using visual management tools on the units to track incoming and outgoing observation patients. Work standards around telemetry beds and telemetry monitoring have been developed and the team is working with the Infection Prevention and Control department around the guidelines and best practices for isolation beds. The goal is that by implementing standardized criteria and guidelines around the use of specialty beds, we can reduce waits.

See more stories about Region improvements at www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/ReadyEveryDay.