A Manitoban with COVID-19 has died after attempting to send them out of province for care at an Ontario intensive care unit.
“A medically stable but critically ill patient who was identified for transport to an Ontario hospital did destabilize prior to takeoff earlier this week,” a spokesperson for Shared Health said via email statement.
The spokesperson told Global News the patient “began to deteriorate as they were being boarded onto the plane.” The patient was provided care by the transport team and immediately sent back to the hospital but they died the next day, the province said.
“Our condolences go out to the patient’s family and loved ones on their loss. We also want to send along our thoughts to the care teams who worked tirelessly to treat this patient, as they have for so many others during this pandemic,” the spokesperson said.
Since May 18, there have been 23 ICU patients sent to nine different Ontario hospitals (Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Windsor, St, Elgin, North Bay and Owen Sound) as Manitoba continues to grapple with capacity issues.
As of midnight Wednesday there were 128 patients in Manitoba ICUs including 74 connected to COVID-19, according to provincial data. The province’s ICU numbers don’t include patients who have been transferred out of Manitoba.
Shared Health said there were more patients expected to be transferred to Ontario Wednesday as well. Another patient was expected to arrive in Saskatchewan Wednesday, the first for the bordering province.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province is in a position to help, having lowered its ICU and hospitalization rates.
“We’re fortunate at the moment with lower hospitalizations than what we have had, and fortunate to have some provincial capacity to offer our neighbours and fellow Canadians in Manitoba,” Moe said.
Elective and non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled in Manitoba and nurses have been moved from other areas into intensive care. Six physicians, warning that Manitoba’s health care is on the brink, this week called for a stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Opposition New Democrats said the Progressive Conservative government failed to prepare hospitals for the pandemic and has left patients at risk.
“Would this Manitoban have passed away if they had not been moved?” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.
“There is a legitimate question to ask as to whether this person would have survived had they been allowed to remain in the intensive care unit bed that they were in.”
Premier Brian Pallister said the number of intensive care beds, with the recent expansion, is well above what it was under the former NDP government.
He also said an influx of up to 50 critical-care nurses and other workers provided by the federal government will help matters.
“My understanding from health officials was that this will reduce the need for out-of-province transfers to occur,” Pallister said.
The province said all patients selected for transport to an ICU in another jurisdiction are carefully assessed by the critical care team and there are detailed discussions between care teams on either side. However, unforeseen problems can occur.
“Rapid deterioration and death of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care is not uncommon and cannot be predicted, whether in the ICU or during transport,” said the Shared Health spokesperson.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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