Manitoba asks for federal help to address mounting fourth wave

Manitoba is asking for help from the federal government to alleviate pressure on hospitals, which could see major strain caused by the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a spokesperson for Manitoba Health and Seniors Care, Minister Audrey Gordon and Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler have asked Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair for 15 to 30 ICU nurses for approximately six weeks.

“Assistance from the federal government would increase ICU capacity to address continued pressure in major acute care facilities due to the effects of COVID-19 while allowing our surgical slates to remain open,” reads the statement, obtained by CTV News Winnipeg on Monday.

The statement also said the request was made over the weekend, and the province is awaiting a response from the federal government.

The announcement comes after a letter, penned by Dr. Dan Roberts and signed by several ER doctors, demands the province bring in help from the Canadian Armed Forces to maintain ICU capacity and to strictly enforce public health orders.

“Our critical care services are failing,” the letter reads. “We will once again have to fly out ventilated patients to other provinces. Meanwhile, we cannibalize essential services to maintain ICU capacity.”

According to Shared Health, ICU numbers in Manitoba continue to climb.

“There were 102 patients in Manitoba ICUs this morning, which is up nearly 17 per cent from one week ago and 42 per cent above its normal, pre-COVID baseline capacity,” a spokesperson for the organization said. “Included in this number were 35 patients with COVID-19, of which 34 were not fully vaccinated. In the past week alone, 22 patients have been admitted to ICUs in Manitoba for treatment of COVID-19, including two on Sunday.”

The spokesperson added over the weekend there were 106 ICU patients in Manitoba hospitals at one point.

“In response to this increased demand on ICUs in the past 48 hours, a number of short-term staffing moves were made to temporarily bring ICU capacity to 110 beds. Contingency planning is underway to maintain increased capacity in ICU over the longer term,” the spokesperson said.

Shared Health said they’ve made a call-out to staff with critical care training to help in ICUs, and said more inter-regional patient transfers will occur this week and in the weeks to come. In the past two months, 79 stable patients from Winnipeg and the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority have been transferred to sites that can meet their care needs in Prairie Mountain Health, Southern Health-Sante Sud and Northern Health, the spokesperson said.

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