Manitoba doctors issue urgent warning about hospital capacity
WINNIPEG -- Doctors Manitoba is issuing a red alert and warning Manitobans that hospital resources could be overwhelmed within days.
The organization, which represents over 3,000 physicians in the province, said on Monday the increased spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba is putting hospitals and ICUs at risk of being pushed beyond their limits.
Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba, said they are issuing this warning because they know Manitobans’ actions today can save lives in the days to come.
“We know that hospital resources are on the brink,” Baillie said.
“We’re seeing ICUs nearing capacity, number of admissions are high, emergency rooms are busy. Physicians are concerned and want Manitobans to act now to help stop the spread.”
Doctors Manitoba added that with hundreds of cases announced daily and the test positivity rate approaching 10 per cent, physicians are worried about hospital capacity.
“Doctors are definitely anxious,” Baillie said.
“They’re concerned about the health of their patients; they’re concerned about the health of their families and their own health as they try to care for Manitobans.”
Dr. Kendiss Olafson, a critical care physician and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, said in a news release the goal is to have open ICU beds at the three acute Winnipeg hospitals at all times. She said over the last week, the ICU beds have been nearly full, and at times there have only been one or two beds open across the entire city.
"I am urging all Manitobans to do what it takes to stop the spread of COVID-19, because your actions today can help save the life of your grandparent, parent, neighbour, or friend," she said.
"The rate of infection, hospitalization and death we are seeing today will be the tip of the iceberg if nothing changes."
Olafson said on Monday the entire healthcare system is currently under pressure.
“I can speak personally about the intensive care unit,” she said.
“Our healthcare system is a lean organization. We do that to be fiscally responsible to our community and our taxpayers. So we never have a huge excess of capacity.”
Olafson noted the healthcare system has never dealt with a challenge like the one they are facing during the pandemic.
“We know that our hospitalizations and our ICU numbers are going to increase significantly in the next couple of weeks and we are already full,” she said.
“And that’s why it’s so imperative that people listen to Dr. Roussin.”
Doctors Manitoba is urging residents to follow chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin’s advice, including staying home when possible and limiting contact with those outside of your household; designating one person in a household to run essential errands, and wear a mask at all times when outside of the home. Manitobans should also wash their hands frequently and stay home if sick.
“We know that lives are at risk,” Baillie said.
“We know that Manitobans step up in times of need, they donate blood when there’s shortages, they help sandbag in times of flooding. This is another chance for Manitobans to step up and save the lives of their friends and loved ones.”
He noted Doctors Manitoba’s message is simple: stay home, listen to Dr. Roussin’s advice, and help to flatten the curve.
- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace and Josh Crabb.