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Surgeries rescheduled as Winnipeg hospitals continue to deal with patient surge

Patients with respiratory illnesses continue to surge into the city’s hospitals, leading to the postponement of some surgeries.

Concordia and Grace Hospitals are rescheduling some inpatient elective orthopedic surgeries, a move opening up more beds and allowing staff to help in more critical areas.

It’s just one change being made thanks to a high volume of patients needing care, leading to blocked treatment spaces in emergency departments and urgent care centres as those patients needing admission into a hospital are unable to access a bed.

Dr. Joss Reimer, Chief Medical Officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, says staffing is playing a major role.

“Before COVID, we were able to move our staff around, flex things, open up new beds, we just don’t have the staff to do that anymore,” Reimer told 680 CJOB’s The News Wednesday.

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“We saw so many people retire, decrease their hours, leave their profession after COVID, and we don’t have that level of flexibility and we’re seeing that across the country.”

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She calls the move to reschedule surgeries “devastating”.

“Nobody’s more affected than our surgical teams,” Reimer said. “They work so hard everyday to provide care to patients, to help relieve their pain, to help them get up and walk again. So to have to reschedule something like that is a last resort for us.”

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Nurses are also being asked to pick up shifts, with nursing managers and educators providing patient care while nurses in leadership and corporate roles are also picking up shifts. Capacity has increased at Walk-In Connected Care Clinics so patients can be redirected from emergency departments.

Concordia Hospital is also reorganizing its waiting room to create more treatment spaces and using medicine nurses from inpatient areas to care for Urgent Care patients while Seven Oaks is creating additional capacity with 10 more beds.

And Pan Am Clinic is creating more space in its minor treatment area to accommodate more patients with minor injuries who, if turned away, would otherwise seek treatment at emergency departments and urgent care centres.

The WRHA says there’s been some easing of pressure in recent days, but it is too soon to say if they are through the surge yet.

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