'Completely exhausted': Health-care workers in Manitoba warn staff shortages taking toll
After almost two years of pandemic strain, staffing continues to be a major issue inside Manitoba’s hospitals.
The shortage is being felt across the system, but especially for nurses.
One nurse, who CTV News Winnipeg has agreed not to identify, said they had to leave the Grace Hospital emergency room due to tough working conditions.
"When I was at the Grace working, I wouldn’t get breaks. So we’re talking 12 to 16 hours of having to eat very quickly, use the bathroom very quickly, no time to sit off your feet. So you’re just completely exhausted," they said.
The nurse said nurses can sometimes be in charge of 12 patients at a time in certain situations, a number they feel is dangerous.
“We have a licence as well. If we are in a condition where we can’t provide good care, we are concerned maybe our nursing licence is in jeopardy.”
A doctor working in the St. Boniface Hospital intensive care unit, who also asked to remain anonymous, said the staff shortage is a big factor in upping capacity.
"At the height of it at the St. Boniface Hospital, there were four different ICUs being run just to manage the patient load and currently we only have one intensive care."
In a statement to CTV News, Shared Health said it will ensure patients get the care they need, but the numbers are trending in the wrong direction.
It said the province currently has 104 ICU beds, with 90 of them filled as of Monday.
“Staffing these additional ICU beds remains the most problematic challenge, with calls out for nurses to pick up shifts or EFT in these units. The current incentives are not resulting in sufficient uptake to open the beds required,” Shared Health said.
“While we are thankful and appreciative to the many nurses who have stepped forward, others have taken measures to refuse or deny these assignments.”
The Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) disagrees, and says a financial incentive isn't "worth the price of one’s physical and mental health."
“The last two years have been beyond exhausting. An inherently selfless position, add layers of disrespect, poor decision-making and lip service, and suddenly you see that nurses cannot be called upon indefinitely,” read a statement from Darlene Jackson, president of the MNU.
“So as much as we’d like to think nurses don’t have a stop point, they do."
With COVID-19 cases continuing to increase in Manitoba, hospital staff are left to do what they can until more nurses can be acquired.
"And it usually sometimes comes down to the attending physician and charge nurse deciding on where a person is going to have to go or denying a person that might have gotten in otherwise," the St. Boniface doctor said.
Going forward, the doctor said there is no quick fix for the problem.
"I think certainly trying to enroll nurses into intensive care programs is the only thing that can be done with regard to the shortage to nurses in intensive care."
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