The CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO says the supply of personal protective equipment within the province's health system is solid, as international supply chains have opened up and orders are now coming in on a regular basis.
"In the time frame of the pandemic to date, we are in the very best shape we have been for PPE because we continue to order to support a surge capacity," Scott Livingstone said at a public board meeting on Wednesday. "So there's lots on hand."
In March, with some health-care professionals saying supplies were running low, the health authority said it would accept donations of things like unopened and sealed boxes of non-latex gloves, disposable gowns and masks.
Livingstone also sent a memo in late March alerting staff that PPE had been stolen from health-care facilities.
"We have confirmed there are public, staff, physicians and/or volunteers removing these supplies from SHA facilities for personal use/gain," he wrote.
At the time, the SHA placed a $4.1-million order for masks and other equipment. It also asked for 3D printing of medical equipment "and any other viable measure."
Livingstone said at Wednesday's meeting that the rush to secure PPE seems to have subsided since March.
The province is now preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19, and has a data system in place to monitor the supply of personal protective equipment, he said.
On the topic of a potential second wave, Livingstone also said the province's two field hospitals in Regina and Saskatoon will remain ready in case they are needed.
Testing prepared for back-to-school
Livingstone said the SHA will continue to pursue its "offensive strategy" in testing, contact tracing, treatment and assessment centres.
"We are actively pursuing expanded equipment and expanded staffing. One of the things that we are doing is ensuring that our capacity meets demand."
Livingstone said while there have been cases of delays in either doing testing or issuing test results, the system was never "over-capacity."
At the request of the Ministry of Health, the health authority is aiming to increase its daily testing capacity to 4,000 by Sept. 1.
The SHA said in July it is hiring 90 staff — 45 full time and 45 part time — to address delays of up to five days for referrals and testing through its 811 HealthLine.
Livingstone said the extra staff means the SHA is prepared to meet the increased demand for testing with teachers and children heading back to school.
"I'm not imagining any significant glitches, but like anything the COVID pandemic has taught us … things change on a weekly basis. So our plans will have to be adaptive and we'll respond as we need to."
He said testing is currently available widely, as it has been since July 14, and he encouraged anyone seeking a test to call 811.