Health officials look at cancelling more surgeries as Manitoba ICUs face continued strain

Health officials are looking at cancelling more surgeries in Manitoba to free up hospital resources as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases continues to strain the province’s intensive care units.

“Unfortunately, we will be looking at needing to ramp down more of our surgical care in order to expand our ICU beds, so that planning is active and underway,” Monika Warren, provincial COVID-19 operations chief for Shared Health, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon is expected to announce details about a task force to address Manitoba’s growing backlog of cancelled surgical and diagnostic procedures later Wednesday.

Warren said the number of COVID-19 patients landing in intensive care is reaching levels not seen in months.

On Monday, six more patients with the illness were admitted to intensive care units — the highest single-day increase the province has seen since the third wave, she said.

“Let me be very clear. We are not seeing many fully vaccinated patients in hospital or in ICU,” said Warren, who’s also executive director for health and acute inpatient services.

“The recurring theme in all of this is the sheer volume of unvaccinated patients that are driving these numbers and putting the health services of our province at risk.”

Monday’s jump in COVID-19 patients was followed by another four admissions to ICU on Tuesday, Warren said. The province’s health-care system begins to see a significant strain when the average number of new intensive care admissions reaches three, she said.

In recent days, Manitoba doctors have raised serious concerns about the health-care system’s ability to care for the sickest patients, saying the province is running out of resources to treat critically ill patients, mainly due to staffing issues. 

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