“It is extraordinarily irritating”: Winnipeg docs sound the alarm about hospital ready instances and capability – Winnipeg

Doctors in Winnipeg who work in city hospitals say the waiting times for patients is among the worst of their careers and fear many are not getting the kind of care they deserve.

While COVID-19 hospital stays and intensive care stays have declined, doctors said there is still a critical shortage of beds, staff and nurses, adding to waiting times and poorly caring for many people.

“I’ve worked in the emergency department at St. Boniface Hospital for over 34 years and it has never been more difficult to see patients than it has been in the past few weeks,” said Dr. Paul Doucet to Global News. “I’ve seen waiting times of 16 and 17 hours.”

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Doucet said when he started his shift one day last week, there were already six patients waiting to be seen who had waited an average of 14 hours.

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“This is unprecedented,” he said.

The emergency doctor said the long waiting times and lack of staff create dangerous situations for staff and patients.

“We don’t have the capacity within the system to provide timely care to our patients, and that is extremely frustrating.”

Doucet’s comment follows a patient at St. Boniface Hospital who suffered cardiac arrest last Tuesday evening after waiting about four hours for treatment.

The man came by ambulance and was lying on a stretcher after triage when he suffered cardiac arrest. Rescue workers had to resuscitate him in front of other patients in the middle of the hallway.


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“Our nurses have the ability to continually abandon their patients due to a systemic problem with a lack of capacity,” said Doucet.

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As the emergency rooms feel the crisis, doctors are highlighting a bigger problem across the hospital.

“The system remains remarkably fragile,” said intensive care physician Dr. Anand Kumar. “There’s no question that I’ve been seeing signs of great stress throughout the hospital, including the emergency room.”

While Kumar spends the majority of his days in the Health Sciences Center’s intensive care unit, he said it was clear that Winnipeg hospitals are struggling.

“In my opinion, they don’t work optimally.”

The staff are exhausted and morale is low, he said.

“It is a slow deterioration and I think there is no question that we have seen a slow deterioration in the ability of the medical system to respond to demands,” he said. “People are tired, people are giving up and people are at the limit when it comes to getting involved, going the extra mile.”

While waiting times in the emergency room are often one of the most visible indicators of health system stress on patients, Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer of Shared Health, said it signals a bigger problem for health officials.

“The emergency is not the problem, honestly,” Siragusa told Global News.

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“An emergency is like a canary in a coal mine.”

Both St. Boniface and the Health Sciences Center are grappling with significant shortages of care, but Siragusa said the emergency department often has a bottleneck problem when it comes to admitting patients who need beds in other areas of the hospital.

“It’s a process issue and there isn’t really a silver bullet that fixes it, but it’s something that we definitely need to work together as a system to respond and support our emergency rooms,” she said.

She said that it is not just a problem with a unit or a hospital, but rather a systemic problem.

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“The problem is the inflow into the inpatient beds upstairs in the hospitals. There are the inpatient beds and also the exit from the hospital. “

Siragusa said it was a pre-COVID-19 issue that was being worked on but was pushed into the background in dealing with the virus.

“We worked on the entry lock and then we were all distracted by COVID and the pandemic. So we need to get back to the core effort of making sure the patient flow and making sure people are in the right place to get the care they need, ”she said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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