The Government of Saskatchewan has added six new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in three provincial hospital locations to address overcapacity and high occupancy rates.

“Our government has taken crucial steps forward to begin delivering on our commitment to provide more ICU beds to benefit our sickest patients, such as those requiring surgery and advanced procedures,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “The $12.5 million investment in this budget is the first of a multi-year strategy to support the addition of ICU beds to the provincial system this year, which will improve patient flow and surgical capacity.

“These additions will also allow existing ICU beds to be used to their full potential and will result in less service disruption and staff redeployment.”

Six new beds are now in operation: two at Regina General Hospital; three at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon; and one at Prince Albert Victoria Hospital.

Plans are underway to add the remaining five beds for a total of 11, which includes four ICU beds for Regina’s Pasqua Hospital and one at Yorkton Hospital. These beds will be operational later in 2022.

A total 108 full time equivalent positions, such as registered nurses and other health care providers will support the new beds.

“We are grateful for the province’s investment in strengthening critical care in our urban, rural and northern regional hospitals,” Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) Executive Director for Provincial Programs – Tertiary Care Lori Garchinski said. “Our teams are continuing to build on the lessons learned from the pandemic and this ongoing expansion in ICU and high-acuity capacity is foundational in advancing connected care for Saskatchewan residents.”

This year’s ICU bed expansion is the first phase of a multi-year strategy to create 31 additional intensive care unit beds across the province for a total of 110 beds.

In addition to this expansion, a $3 million increase in this year’s budget will fund 10 high-acuity beds at Regina General Hospital to reduce demands on the ICU and improve patient flow.

Saskatchewan currently has 85 adult ICU beds across nine regional and tertiary sites.