Ticks, Mosquitoes, Wild Animals

The Cypress Health Region is reminding you to apply precautions during the spring and summer months to avoid or minimize the possibility of insect and animal bites that can lead to various diseases as well as inconveniences.


Two insects of importance are mosquitoes and ticks. In the early spring and summer, various species of mosquito emerge and cause a nuisance as well as itchy red spots where they bite. These mosquitoes, however, do not carry disease of significance to humans. Later in summer, a species of mosquito called the Culex tarsalis emerges and multiplies to significant numbers. This mosquito feeds on birds, horses, and humans. It can pick West Nile Virus from migrating birds and spread this to humans.

Ticks are small, ranging in size from a poppy seed to a pea. Their size depends on variables such as age and time of their last feed. The most common found in Saskatchewan is the American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, and does not transmit disease of significance to humans. The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, can carry disease with a bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease. It is common in parts of the USA and Manitoba, but has now started to appear in parts of Saskatchewan, mainly the Qu’Appelle Valley.

Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose due to its differing symptoms from person to person. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include, with varying severity: fatigue, fever and chills, headache, spasms/weakness, numbness/tingling, skin rash, dizziness, nervous system disorders, and abnormal heartbeat, among others. If you develop these symptoms in the weeks after a known tick bite, please contact your healthcare provider immediately. If you saved the tick that bit you, bring it to your medical appointment as it may help the physician assess you and can also be sent for testing. You may also directly submit ticks for testing to the University of Saskatchewan’s Chilton Parasitology Laboratory in the Biology Department.

Wearing closed-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants with socks pulled over the bottom of the pant leg are important measures to protect yourself, particularly if you venture into forests or overgrown areas. Wearing light coloured clothing and using insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin (read and follow directions on label) will also help prevent unwanted insects from coming in contact with you. If you have been outside for an extended period of time, shower or bathe afterwards to wash away loose ticks and do daily body checks on yourself, your children, and your pets. Staying indoors, eliminating standing water, and sealing holes in screens and doors are other preventative measures to consider. For those with allergies to stings, make sure you know of the medicines to access and what medical attention to seek when necessary.


Various animal bites are reported each summer: dogs, domestic and stray cats, bats, raccoons and beavers, gophers, and others. Some of these animals, especially in the wild or if they have been with infected animals in the wild, can carry and transmit the virus responsible for rabies. Avoid getting close to these animals and be careful even when approaching domestic animals that are not familiar with you. In the event of a bite, seek proper medical attention.

Another danger posed in southwest Saskatchewan is that of the prairie rattlesnake. These venomous snakes are capable of causing tissue destruction, swelling, internal bleeding, and intense pain.

If you or somebody you are with is bitten by a rattlesnake the following important steps should be followed:

  1. Do not cut the bite area, or use suction, or try to apply a tourniquet, or apply ice.
  2. Remain as calm as possible and don‘t panic. Around 25% of bites from venomous snakes may be dry bites.
  3. Call 9-1-1 to request medical attention and ambulance as quickly as possible.
  4. Snakebites are medical emergencies. Quick assessment in a hospital is necessary. There is a time frame in which to safely transport the person bitten to a treatment facility.
  5. Carefully remove jewellery from the affected limb in case of swelling.
  6. Carry the victim, if possible, or help them to remain calm, inactive, and in a semi-sitting position until help arrives.
  7. Keep the affected limb below the level of the heart.
  8. Cleanse the wound if possible.
  9. Splint the affected limb loosely to reduce movement (if splint material is at hand).

“As the weather continues to warm up, the likelihood of encountering and getting tick, other insect, as well as animal bites increases. It is wise to be mindful of the preventative techniques that help protect one from these encounters, and enjoy a bite-free summer,” commented Dr. David Torr, Consulting Medical Health Officer for Cypress Health.

Additional Information:

Off-Site Preparations for New Health Facility in Maple Creek

Aside from the great amount of planning and preparations that are required for the design and construction of a new health facility, there is much off-site planning that has to occur as well. The construction of the new Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility (SIHF) in Maple Creek is progressing at a steady pace, but there are many efforts taking place away from the site’s location that are important elements of the overall project.

Request for Artwork

The design of the new integrated facility includes many unique and innovative aspects that are intended to complement the healing environment provided within. With the desire to further supplement the interior design, the Cypress Health Region has formed a partnership with the artistic community in Southwest Saskatchewan to see this exciting new facility outfitted with beautiful artworks created by local artists.

The Health Region and SIHF Art Foundation have put out an open call for the artistic community across the southwest to submit their works of art for consideration. If you, or someone you know, have a piece of artwork that could be considered for this project, you are encouraged to visit the health region’s website and complete the ‘Artwork Donation Form’. This webpage also provides additional information and guidelines for the contributions of artwork, the review process for acceptance of the artwork, and charitable tax implications.

“Effective healthcare environments have been linked to natural light sources, engaging pieces of artwork that are visible to patients and visitors, and connections to nature,” says Kim Swanson, Health Services Manager in Maple Creek. “These elements can have a direct impact on healthcare outcomes for patients, residents, and caregivers alike. Positive impacts on the mental and emotional wellbeing can lead to increased physical recovery times, and so we feel that the artwork project will be a great addition to our new facility’s environment.”

Connie Phillips and Meryl Stock are two of the local artists that provided their support for the initiation of the artwork project and they were very excited to be involved in the initial planning stages for the display of artwork in the new integrated facility. “This project will allow the artistic community to be more involved in our new health care facility,” commented Stock. “It will be an honour for artists to have their paintings and other artwork on display for the community to see, but I feel that it will serve an even greater purpose for the patients, residents and visitors. The beauty and meaning of the artwork will have a positive healing effect on people, temporarily take their minds off of their troubles, and increase their overall emotional wellbeing.”

The artwork project will result in another example of how the newest health facility in southwest Saskatchewan will serve to enhance the experience of our patients, caregivers, and increase quality of life for our long term care residents.

Equipment Storage Requirements

An essential element of the transition into a new health facility is the procurement and purchase of equipment and furnishings that are required. Following the identification of the items to be purchased, the health region’s Materials Management department has provided their expertise in initiating the complicated procurement process with suppliers to ensure the products will be available on time to be installed into the new facility.

One of the outstanding issues identified was having sufficient and appropriate space to store the items until they were needed in the new facility. The Town of Maple Creek quickly stepped up to the plate, realizing that this need could be accommodated within their existing plans to update their storage facilities for Town-related equipment and supplies.

The Town was planning to construct a storage facility for their needs but offered to speed up the construction process and make it available to the Region for the SIHF-related storage requirements. The storage building offers a clean climate-controlled environment within a secure compound, one that is accessible on a regular basis, and close to the SIHF construction site.

The ability to store the equipment and furnishings close by the construction site will ensure that the items are readily available when it is time to deliver and install them into the new facility. This will further reduce any delays in preparing for the transition into the new site and means that the items will be there when needed.

Fundraising efforts continue for the acquisition of equipment and furnishing needs for the facility. The Southwest Healthcare Trust is actively involved in the efforts and more information can be found from visiting their website at www.swhealthcaretrust.ca.

Construction on the new SIHF is progressing rapidly and there are noticeable changes to the internal and external environments on a regular basis. The public are encouraged to regularly visit the Health Region’s website at www.cypresshealth.ca to view the on-site camera which provides a real-time view of the construction site and other updates on the project’s progress.

Cypress Achieves Balanced Operating Budget of $134 Million

The Cypress Regional Health Authority has approved a balanced operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year that is reflective of the region’s vision and values, and supports the provincial health priorities and strategic directions.

Cypress Health’s approved operating budget for 2014-15 will result in a planned balance of revenues and expenditures totaling $134.3 million. This is a status quo budget with no new initiatives. When compared to the 2013-14 approved operating budget, an increase of $5.7 million or 4.4% was realized in the new operating plan for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The increase represents collective bargaining increases and annualized funding for new initiatives introduced in 2013-14.

Tyler Bragg is the Chairperson of the Cypress Regional Health Authority and he was pleased that the region was able to achieve a balanced operating budget. “The budget was completed within the Ministry of Health’s principle of lowering the cost curve while maintaining programs and services for residents of the health region,” said Bragg. “This tremendous investment in health care will equate to spending $368,055 every day on program and service delivery. Our health team will focus on the provision of high quality services to our patients and will emphasize safety for all staff, patients, and general public.”

Provincial funding accounts for 91% of the total operating revenue with the remaining revenue received from long term care and home care fees, third party charges, and other miscellaneous recoveries. The health region will spend 81% (or $108.97 million) of its overall budget on salaries and benefits for its 1,700 employees and medical services remuneration.

A summary of the balanced operating budget by expenditure pool includes:

  • 39% ($51.0 million) for Inpatient and Resident Services
  • 16% ($21.4 million) for Community Health Services
  • 17.5% ($24.9 million) for Support Services
  • 10% ($12.8 million) for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services
  • 11% ($15.0 million) for Physician Related Expenses for contracted services
  • 4.5% ($6.5 million) for Program Support
  • 2% ($2.8 million) for Ambulatory Care

The region’s approved operational plan includes several strategic initiatives that will address identified priorities, meet Ministry of Health targets for attendance support management and general efficiencies, and address the sustainability of existing programs and services. The plan allows for ongoing support of the Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) model of care in Shaunavon, ongoing enhancement of the renal dialysis satellite program, ongoing long term care programming enhancement via the ‘Urgent Issues Long Term Care Action Fund’, and children’s oral health preventative efforts.

“We have been able to address a number of strategic priorities due to targeted funding from the Ministry of Health and other partners, along with the commitment of our dedicated staff members in achieving targeted savings and efficiencies,” commented Beth Vachon, Cypress Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “We will continue to monitor our fiscal ability to invest in additional identified staffing priorities and pressures as we are able to do so.”

Vachon added that the achievement of a balanced operating budget is only one phase of the overall financial strategy for the health region. “While we continue to focus on putting the patients first in everything we do, we must also continue to generate efficiencies to invest in capital infrastructure and equipment, improve our working capital, and invest in best care practices where possible. Our attention to long-term program and service sustainability is a key element of our ongoing planning processes.”

The 2014-15 operational budget was approved at the Cypress Regional Health Authority’s regular monthly meeting on June 6th. It will be forwarded to the Minister of Health for the Ministry’s review and formal approval.

The Cypress Health’s team of 1,700 staff and physicians offers a variety of community and facility-based programs and services across the region. They provide services to nearly 45,000 residents in eighty urban and rural municipalities.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

May 31 marks World No Tobacco Day. The goal of the Day is to contribute to protecting present and future generations from the health consequences of tobacco as well as the social, environmental, and economic effects that tobacco and its addiction can have.

For additional information on tobacco cessation and World No Tobacco Day please visit any of the following links:

Safety Logo Contest

The Cypress Health Region is holding an open contest for the design of a safety logo which will be used as a visual reminder of past, present, and future patients and staff as well as the region’s over-arching commitment of safety.

The logo will recognize the collaborative commitment that the Cypress Health Region has with patients, working together to achieve a safer environment for both the public and staff. It will be displayed in all Cypress Health Region facilities and will be used in all safety correspondence including safety brochures and safety statements. The logo and its story will also have its own page on www.cypresshealth.ca.

“The idea for this logo design contest came from patients, family members, and staff discussing the importance of safety and thinking of ways to honour patients and staff that have been caused harm in the past,” commented Jill Gates, Accreditation and Patient Safety Coordinator for the region. “This logo is a great opportunity for people to put their design skills to the test. Whether it’s a hand drawn logo or something created digitally, we’re excited to see what community members can come up with.”

Those interested are encouraged to keep designs simple to allow for scaling of the logo to occur without the loss of detail. All types of drawing tools will be accepted, however, photographs are not allowed. Judging of the designs will be made by a panel of patient and family representatives and staff of the region. The winning logo design will be recognized at the 2014 Safety Expo in September.

Complete details of the safety logo design contest can be found on the Cypress Health Region’s website. Submissions will be accepted until June 30, 2014. Good luck to those who participate!

Shaunavon CEC Continues to Meet Needs of Community

Since the formal implementation of the Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) model of care on November 1, 2013, residents of Shaunavon and surrounding areas have enjoyed stable, predictable health services at the Shaunavon Hospital and Care Centre. This consistency continues to be offered at the facility despite recent changes to personnel.

Dr. Siva Balasingam, one of three full-time practicing physicians in the Primary Health Care clinic, has submitted her resignation and worked her last day in the community earlier this month. Upon receipt of her resignation the region immediately began to secure locum physician coverage and has been able to resume a full physician complement through these efforts. In the interim, work is being done to recruit an additional physician for the community via the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program. It is hopeful that an announcement of a new physician can be made in the coming months, pending the logistics that need to be finalized which is a standard of the physician recruitment process in Saskatchewan.

Other healthcare providers, including Dr. Louwrens, Dr. Rahmani, Dr. Barretto, and nurse practitioners Sherry Hornung and Melissa Carignan, can continue to be seen during the regular hours of 8:00am to 8:00pm, 7 days per week. Anyone wishing to access the Clinic is strongly encouraged to make an appointment. Appointments with one of the providers are regularly available the same or next day.

The community is reminded to only come to the Hospital as a ‘walk-in’ if they are facing an emergency situation.

“Making an appointment to see a health provider is an important part of the CEC model because it ensures our human resources are properly utilized and it also reduces the risk of longer wait times for patients to see a health provider,” commented Greg Grant, Director of Primary Health Care. “When someone comes in to the Hospital without an appointment and asks to see a doctor they have to be referred to the emergency department even if their intent is to see a physician at the clinic. This is due to our emergency protocols and has a trickle-down effect because it takes human resources away from the clinic. As is the case in any hospital, we encourage people to only use the emergency room for true medical emergencies.”

To book an appointment at the Shaunavon Primary Health Care Clinic please call 306-297-1940. This booking number will allow you access to a physician or nurse practitioner.

For more information on the Collaborative Emergency Centre model of care you may visit the Cypress Health Region’s CEC webpage.

Government of Saskatchewan Calls for Public Representatives

Saskatchewan residents who want to make a difference in health care have the opportunity to serve on a committee that helps ensure decisions on out-of-province and out-of-country medical coverage are consistent with legislation, policies and guidelines.

The Ministry of Health is seeking motivated people to fill several public representative positions on the Health Services Review Committee, an independent body which reviews government decisions made on out-of-province and out-of-country medical coverage. Closing date for submission of resumés is June 6.

“We’re looking for people who would like to share their knowledge and voice, putting the interests of patients first,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “Public members play an important role in ensuring the best interests of Saskatchewan residents are represented.”

Patients may request a review of Ministry of Health decisions to ensure that government policy was followed.

Although prior approval is not required for most hospital and physician services received in other provinces, coverage for out-of-country treatment is only considered in exceptional circumstances and must have prior approval from the Ministry of Health. Information on out-of-province and out-of-country medical services can be found at www.health.gov.sk.ca/out-of-province.

Saskatchewan citizens with relevant skills including prior experience on boards, councils or committees are encouraged to apply. Typically these are three-year appointments, which may be extended for a second term. Meetings convene in Regina, Saskatoon or other locations in Saskatchewan. The time commitment ranges from four to 12 days a year. Travel expenses and an honourarium will be paid.

Saskatchewan residents interested in serving on the committee should submit a resumé including a history of their community involvement and volunteer activities, along with relevant education and employment experience, to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Health Services Review Committee, 3475 Albert Street, Regina SK S4S 6X6, or email HealthServices.ReviewCommittee@health.gov.sk.ca.

For further details, visit www.health.gov.sk.ca/HSRC.

Maple Creek Services Resume

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 21st @ 9:00am

The following locations will be providing programs and services until the new Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility (SIHF) is ready for occupancy this fall:

  • Former TransGas Building – 728 Pacific Avenue (306-662-2611)
    • Emergency outpatient service – 24 hours per day
    • Laboratory, x-ray, observation beds, ambulatory care
    • Ambulance services – 24 hours per day
  • Former Royal Bank Building – 202 Maple Street (306-662-2829)
    • Primary Health Care Clinic – physicians, nurse practitioner appointments
  • Cypress Lodge Nursing Home – Highway #21 South (306-662-2671)
    • Home Care – available in the front offices, located inside main entrance
    • Public Health Nursing – available in south solarium area
    • Therapies – available in South Wing, follow signage
    • Community Health (mental health, addictions, dietitian, etc.) – health provider will give you details on location to meet you
  • Other phone numbers:
    • Therapies – 306-662-3181
    • Public Health – 306-662-5336
    • Mental Health – 1-866-786-2510
    • Home Care – 306-662-5333


    UPDATED: Wednesday, May 14th @ 3:00 pm

    Through the large efforts of many, the Primary Health Care Clinic and acute care services in the community of Maple Creek are returning to operation.

    • Physician and Nurse Practitioner clinic appointments resumed in the morning of May 14th, from the former Royal Bank building at 202 Maple Street.
    • Emergency outpatient services will resume at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 14th and will be available at the former TransGas building at 728 Pacific Avenue. This service will be available 24 hours per day and will be provided by nursing staff and physicians.
    • If you are faced with a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1 and an ambulance will be immediately dispatched to assist you.

    The staff of Maple Creek and the Cypress Health Region are very appreciative of the public’s understanding and patience during this transition period.


    UPDATED: Tuesday, May 13th @ 10:30 am


    Over the past four days, the staff from Maple Creek and the Cypress Health Region has been very busy preparing for a relocation of programs and services that were offered from the Hospital building. Alternate locations have been found for the majority of programs and services to be available for the public to access.

    The following locations will be used to provide programs and services until further notice:

    TRANS GAS BUILDING – 728 Pacific Avenue, Maple Creek

    It is anticipated that the following services will be available at this location, as of Wednesday, May 14th @ 7:00 pm:

    • Emergency Outpatient Services (24 hours per day) – nursing staff will be based at this location
    • Ambulatory Care, Lab and X-ray, Observation Beds
    • Ambulance Services – ambulance and staff will be based at this location

    OLD ROYAL BANK BUILDING – 202 Maple Street, Maple Creek

    • Primary Health Care Clinic (physicians, nurse practitioners) will be available at this location
    • Patients will be seen on a walk-in basis as of 1:00 pm Tuesday, May 13th.
    • It is anticipated that regular appointments will be back to normal as of Wednesday, May 14th

    CYPRESS LODGE NURSING HOME – Highway #21 South, Maple Creek

    • Home Care – will be available in the front offices, just inside the main entrance
    • Public Health Nursing – will be available in the South Solarium area; please use main entrance and follow the signage.
    • Therapies – will be available in the South Wing, please use main entrance and follow the signage.
    • Community Health (ex. mental health, addictions, dietitian, etc.) – your health provider will provide you with details on a location to meet with you; a more permanent location is being determined.

    Please watch for further updates as the situation is being revised and enhanced on a regular basis.  As well, the Town of Maple Creek’s Tourism Facebook page and other community Facebook pages will be receiving all updates and will be posting them for their followers to view and pass along to others.

    The Cypress Health Region and Maple Creek staff appreciates your understanding and patience during this time of transition. Many efforts are being made to provide as many of the programs and services as possible within the challenges of the current situation.


    Updated: Friday, May 9, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    The Maple Creek Hospital is closed.

    The following services are currently unavailable: emergency outpatient services, lab/xray, inpatient admissions, home care, public health, community health, and therapies. In addition, some appointments at the Primary Health Care Clinic and community health-based programming have been post-poned. Those whose appointments have been affected by these post-ponements have been contacted directly.

    The region is currently working on contingency plans for health services in the community. Current efforts have resulted in the following tentative plan:

    Primary Health Care

    The old Royal Bank building, at the corner of Maple Street and 1st Avenue, is being modified to be the temporary home of Primary Health Care services. Health region staff are working hard to prepare this location to accommodate primary care services. It is anticipated that the Clinic will resume operations on Tuesday, May 13. Appointments can be made by calling 306-662-2829.

    Emergency Outpatient Services/Lab/X-ray

    The TransGas building, located at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Harder Street, will become the temporary location of outpatient emergency services, lab services, and limited diagnostic imaging services (via portable x-ray machine). It is anticipated that these services will become available during the middle of the week of May 12-16. Staff are also working at this location to prepare it to be the temporary home of these services.

    Ambulance services have not been disrupted as a result of these contingency plans.

    Public Health/Community Health/Therapies/Home Care

    Public Health services, Community Health services, Therapy services, and Home Care will be stationed at the Cypress Lodge Nursing Home effective Monday, March 12.

    As is always the case, if you are facing a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1 and an ambulance will be immediately dispatched to assist you. The nearest acute facility emergency outpatient services are located at Shaunavon, Leader, Swift Current, and Medicine Hat (Alberta).

    Updates will continue to be provided to this webpage on a regular basis. Please check back often. The Maple Creek staff members and health region appreciate the public’s understanding during this situation.

Relocation of Services Complete in Maple Creek

Following several days of massive teamwork, the relocation of programs and services from the Maple Creek Hospital to other buildings within the community is now complete.

A decision to close the existing Maple Creek Hospital was made on May 9th due to issues with deteriorating roofing membranes and resulting water penetration into the building. Emphasis was placed on relocating the services to other locations to ensure stable and consistent access to programs and services were available until the new SIHF was ready for occupancy this fall.

Gloria Illerbrun, Executive Director of Health Services for Cypress Health Region, was extremely impressed with the overall teamwork and cooperation from many individuals and organizations during the impromptu transfer. “I cannot extend enough appreciation for the efforts of our Maple Creek staff, managers from throughout the region, community partners, and others for their many efforts over the past number of days,” commented Illerbrun. “Once the decision was made to relocate, alternate locations were quickly identified, and everyone dug in their heels and went to work. It was amazing to watch how everyone banded together to get to where we are today.”

Illerbrun was quick to point out that the Town of Maple Creek was very appreciative of the tough situation that existed and were quick to respond to our needs. “The Town was helpful right from the start and assisted the transition process in so many ways,” added Illerbrun. “We were so thankful for their partnership in making this work.”

The following locations will be providing programs and services until the new Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility (SIHF) is ready for occupancy this fall:

Former TransGas Building – 728 Pacific Avenue

  • Emergency outpatient service – 24 hours per day
  • Laboratory, x-ray, observation beds, ambulatory care
  • Ambulance services – 24 hours per day

Former Royal Bank Building – 202 Maple Street

  • Primary Health Care Clinic – physicians, nurse practitioner appointments

Cypress Lodge Nursing Home – Highway #21 South

  • Home Care – available in the front offices, located inside main entrance
  • Public Health Nursing – available in south solarium area
  • Therapies – available in South Wing, follow signage
  • Community Health (mental health, addictions, dietitian, etc.) – health provider will give you details on location to meet you.

The health region also would like to acknowledge the many individuals and organizations that provided their assistance and flexibility to reduce the turnaround time in making the programs available once again. Appreciation is extended to the Town of Maple Creek’s Council and staff, TransGas, SaskEnergy, community contractors and service providers, SaskTel, Salvation Army, Cypress Lodge staff and residents, and many others for interrupting your daily routines and re-prioritizing their tasks.

“This relocation of services is a true example of community spirit, partnership, and teamwork in making sure that the resumption of health care provision to residents of Maple Creek and surrounding areas was a top priority,” added Illerbrun. “The staff of Maple Creek and health region is forever grateful.”

Further updates will be provided on the health region’s website at www.cypresshealth.ca and residents are encouraged to visit the website for the latest information on the relocation and the progress on the SIHF construction site.

Bike Rodeo Takes Place May 14

Spring is a great time of the year to get outdoors. Cycling is an excellent form of transportation and recreation for every age group: it promotes improved health and physical activity, and it is a ideal way to be social and have fun. Cycling is an activity that requires specific skills and behaviors. Young cyclists need to learn these safe skills and behaviours so they can reduce their risk of injury when cycling. Bike Safety Week is the perfect time to promote and educate our children and extended community on the importance of safe cycling for all.