Manitoba health: doctor warns of overwhelmed hospitals

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An emergency room doctor is sounding the alarm after a patient waited 10 hours before being diagnosed with a heart attack.


Dr. Kristjan Thompson, the past president of Doctors Manitoba, says when he arrives at work at St. Boniface Hospital he sees halls lines with patients on stretchers.


“We cannot keep doing this dance. Something has to change,” Thompson said. “Things are critical right now.”


The doctor says one patient waited 16 hours with a bowel obstruction, and another patient has been waiting for a bed for six days.


 “A patient was having a heart attack while they were waiting, and that is just unacceptable.”


He says while this type of heart attack did not show up in earlier tests, they were waiting in pain for 10 hours.


Thompson says this weekend they only had eight beds for ER patients, as 34 beds were filled by patients waiting for a bed upstairs.


A Doctors Manitoba survey found 67 per cent of doctors are stressed about the ability to provide a high level of care.


“Every single physician that I work with at St. Boniface emergency tell me that this is the worst that they’ve seen things,” he said. “They’re leaving the ER because of unreasonable working conditions”


Thompson says this is happening across the healthcare system, and things are continuing to get worse as ERs pack with admitted patients waiting for a bed.


The Province of Manitoba says it is not considering sending patients out of province.


Premier Heather Stefanson says the province is working with other provinces to address the healthcare issues across the country.


“This is nothing that is unique to Manitoba,” Stefanson said in a Tuesday news conference. “There’s challenges within our healthcare system right across the country.”


Darlene Jackson, the president of the Manitoba Nurses’ Union, is in Newfoundland this week for meetings with healthcare leaders as they discuss nurse retention. She says they are seeing extremely high nursing vacancies across the country.


“We need a plan or something from this government,” Jackson said.


Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon said during a news conference, later this week the province will roll out a plan to bring nurses back to hospitals.


“We’ll be looking at incentives that bring out agency nurses back to the public system that bring our retired nurses back, and bring our nurses that may have resigned,” she said.


Thomas Linner, the executive director of the Manitoba Health Coalition, wants to see the province create a council to address the healthcare crisis.


“I think the government needs expert advice from the people working on the front lines.”


Thompson says he is optimistic, and things such as increased training, recruitment, and retention will make a big difference.

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