A day of emotional pleas from health professionals

·3 min read

Manitoba surpassed 10,000 cases of COVID-19 Friday, and the province’s chief public health officer reflected on the day he announced one case back in March – the 21st case.

Looking through his speaking notes Thursday, he considered the long journey since then.

“Looking back at those numbers, certainly reflecting on the numbers we’re seeing now, and the urgency that’s ahead of us now, we know moving forward this is a critical time for us in Manitoba and we need to make necessary changes now to bring these numbers down,” Dr. Bent Roussin said.

“Our healthcare system can’t sustain numbers like this daily. We’re seeing serious strain on the healthcare system. Hospitals are nearing capacity. We have over 30 people in ICU right now. Health care providers are doing their best for Manitobans, but are becoming overwhelmed.”

Lanette Siragusa, provincial lead for health system integration and quality and chief nursing officer with Shared Health, echoed Roussin’s statements, noted the incremental increase in capacity continues – both in human and material resources.

“But our capacity is not infinite. Through-out our health system, multiple days of 300 and 400 cases, it’s very clear about what the impact will be on our beds and our staff in the days and weeks to follow,” she said.

Siragusa said she wanted to move beyond numbers and statistics, so shared messages from health workers after describing what healthcare worker are doing for Manitobans.

“They are stepping forward. They are training, right now, to work in new areas with new teams. They’re isolating from their families and their loved ones. They’re making lots of changes in their lives, so that they can be there for you,” she said.

One healthcare worker said, “I am relieved and also sad. No gatherings. Most businesses are closed. Unfortunately, a lockdown is unavoidable, now. Our healthcare facilities and workers are struggling. I’m relieved because shutting things down for now gives us a chance to hold our healthcare system together. But even with the lockdown, our hospitals need to brace for a very few tough weeks.”

Another said, “For the next four weeks, I will only work in the ICU. Make a change to reduce the number of people who spend lonely nights in the ICU.”

A third said, “We don’t need your gratitude. We need you to wear a mask and keep your distance, and stop spreading this virus. Please.”

This past Thursday, the entire province moved into the critical code red restrictions, likely for two full incubation periods – four weeks.

“We’re going to step up now. We’re going to get these numbers down. And we will be able to, once again, loosen these restrictions,” Roussin said.

That means, Roussin repeated: stay home, go out for essentials only, socialize only with your household.

Also on Friday, Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson released a statement on the situation at Bethesda Regional Health Centre.

“Nurses at Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach are sounding the alarm over the dramatically increasing number of COVID-positive patients arriving at the hospital,” Jackson stated.

“The hospital is struggling with capacity as a high volume of patients keep arriving by ambulance and on their own. Nurses are reporting having to triage patients in their cars at times because of a lack of space in the emergency department. Multiple units are experiencing outbreaks, and approximately seven nurses have already tested positive for COVID.”

Jackson called out health officials, who, she said, had months to prepare for this surge in cases.

“The Pallister government and Southern Health must act immediately to ensure all necessary resources are in place and to recruit additional staff, so that patients get the care they need,” Jackson stated.

“To the public: Nurses and other health care staff need you to do your part. Stop the spread, follow public health orders, and stay home.”

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun