WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg hospitals are sending out an urgent plea for donations to get life-saving equipment, iPads for patients, and free coffee to keep staff going as the pandemic's third wave comes crashing down.

During the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the foundations for the Health Sciences Centre (HSC), St. Boniface Hospital and Grace Hospital each set up COVID-19 response funds to raise money for staff and patients.

Now, with hospitalizations increasing and the third wave putting a strain on the healthcare system, the hospitals are calling for more help.

“This has been the hardest 15 months of their lives to say the very least," said Grace Hospital Foundation executive director Jon Einarson.

READ MORE: Manitoba hospitals feeling strain from high COVID-19 case numbers

As of Monday, the HSC Foundation raised $1.7 million, St. Boniface Hospital Foundation raised more than $656,000, and Grace Hospital Foundation raised around $310,000.

“We have specific, timely and essential equipment that we need to support the effort right now,” said Jonathon Lyon, president and CEO of the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Foundation.

Depending on the hospital, the money has been spent on equipment such as ultrasounds for the ICU, UV light cleaners, ventilators and research.

However, there are also items to help people cope with the stress; including free coffee and food for staff, and paid phone lines, TVs and iPads for patients.

“So the iPads were used to facilitate Zoom, FaceTime, and other things with patients who could otherwise not communicate with their loved ones," said Einarson.

The hospital foundations said more equipment is needed to deal with younger patients staying longer, and more of those extras to boost spirits.

“Based on the numbers that we’re seeing and the forecast by the province they’re expecting numbers to increase that might change the situation on the ground in terms of what requirements there are going to be," said Lyon.