On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced a resumption of some health services it calls a "cautious first step" in reopening the health system.

"It's a delicate balance we begin today toward a 'new normal' while still responding to the realities of a global pandemic," SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said in a news release. "Teams have and will continue to balance service resumption plans with the necessary health system capacity required for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients."

The SHA said not all Phase 1 services will be available as of Tuesday or in every part of the province.

Phase 1 services include:

  • Outpatient physiotherapy appointments.
  • Kidney health services.
  • Some laboratory services.
  • Home care (e.g. bathing services).
  • Expanded immunizations.

"The public can expect that their health care experience will be different than prior to the pandemic because of additional measures in place to protect patients and staff," the SHA statement said. 

"These include adaptation of waiting room practices to promote physical distancing, additional emphasis on virtual care, wherever possible, and additional screening at health care facilities,"

Phase 1 to include expansion of surgeries

Phase 1 of expanding health care services will also include six-week urgent surgeries. The SHA was previously offering three week urgent and emergent cases.

"A patient's priority on the surgery list will be determined based on a clinical assessment by their physicians, in consultation with the patient," said Dr. Rashaad Hansia of the SHA in a news release.

"It's not based only on the type of surgery needed. Given the complexity of the work involved to resume surgical services in as safe a manner as possible, we won't see a significant increase right away."

"What we are seeing is surgeons working with their patients to assess their needs and determine who qualifies for the six-week urgent category, then scheduling those for today and in the weeks ahead," Dr. Hansia said.

The SHA said CT, MRI and other diagnostic testing is "cautiously increasing" to enable non-urgent and elective exams. 

The SHA has not put a date on the next three phases of its four-phase reopening plan.

Phase 2 includes reopening SHA-operated specialty clinics including the Respiratory Outpatient Clinic, Dermatology clinics and cardiac stress testing.