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'This is that first step': New beds coming to St. Boniface Hospital


With people waiting more than half a day for care, the province is planning to add more beds at the St. Boniface Hospital, but the challenge will be staffing them.

Many people looking for emergency care at St. Boniface Hospital found long waits Wednesday. At 3:30 p.m., the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority website was warning wait times were nearly 14 hours.

"There are many days where virtually all of the beds in the emergency department are occupied by patients who have already been seen and assessed and who require admission to hospital," said Dr. Paul Ratana, the hospital's emergency department medical director.

But they can't be moved for hours and sometimes days because there simply aren't beds available elsewhere in the hospital.

The new NDP government said it has a plan to address that.

"We are here to announce 36 new acute care beds here at St. Boniface Hospital," Uzoma Asagwara, the provincial health minister, said during a news conference Wednesday.

The government says it will cost $13 million for the new beds. At the moment, the province does not have the doctors and nurses to fully staff these beds. Asagwara said the beds will be open in phases beginning in late March.

"We're reaching out to students, we're retaining staff in our health care system. We're recruiting and training more health care workers. But ultimately all of that work is going to be done," Asagwara said.

The province warns it will take years to fix Manitoba's ailing health care system.

"We have to start somewhere with inpatient capacity," Ratana said. "This is that first step."

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals said it was very pleased to hear Wednesday's announcement. However, it said there aren't enough specialized professionals to staff existing beds. It said vacancies must be filled and more people need to be recruited. Top Stories

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