Manitoba hospitals expected to shuffle dozens of patients weekly: document

A minimum of 45 patients are to be moved each week in between health regions in Manitoba to help create capacity in hospitals, according to an internal document obtained by CTV News.

The Patient Flow Targets document dated December 10, 2021, said there are to be nine moves per day for Winnipeg, and using a five-day week that totals 45 patients weekly.

“Sites are expected to meet minimum targets but welcome to exceed them,” the document reads.

The Interlake-Eastern Health Authority is also expected to move two patients per day.

In Winnipeg, the Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface, and Grace Hospitals are expected to move one patient per day, five days a week. For the Victoria, Concordia, and Seven Oaks hospitals, the minimum expectation is to move two patients per day.

According to the document, the patients being moved must be identified by 2:00 p.m. so they can be matched with a receiving site and transportation can be coordinated.

The next day, the logistics of the transfer are finalized and communication with the family happens to let them know the transfer is confirmed.

On the third day, the patient is moved which includes communication with the family again.

A spokesperson for Shared Health said the transfers between regions are in response to an increasing number of COVID-19 patients in hospital.

“Sites and regions were asked to work toward the identification of up to 55 patients per week for transfer (45 from Winnipeg and 10 from Interlake-Eastern). If required, these transfers will make a significant improvement to patient flow,” the spokesperson said in a written statement.

The spokesperson said eight patients have been moved this week, and 87 have been moved since October (59 from Winnipeg, and 28 from Interlake-Eastern) to sites in Prairie Mountain Health, Southern Health-Sante Sud and Northern Health.

At a press conference on Thursday, Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon said Shared Health is making these transfers using a long-standing policy.

“Our focus is to ensure all Manitobans receive the care that they need, whether that is on a surgery unit, medicine, ICU, it’s to ensure all Manitobans, regardless of where they live in the province, are receiving care,” she said. “We want to see the patient that is waiting in terms of our delivery.

“Those decisions are being made by Shared Health to ensure all Manitobans are receiving care.”

Gordon adds she has not spoken with other provinces about accepting patients from Manitoba, a practice that took place during Manitoba’s third wave of the pandemic. 

Dr. Eric Jacobsohn said acute hospital beds are in high demand at Winnipeg hospitals right now, and said the province has had a problem with the number of acute beds available for many years.

“We have a crisis situation right now, and the only way we can cope is, where are there beds in the province? And we have had a large number of beds in Manitoba in more rural areas that are not occupied,” he said.

“If the match for the patient’s acuity is correct, unfortunately, that’s the only option right now.”

Jacobsohn added it is not ideal for patients, but it is the right thing to do right now.

“Right now, we can’t dissuade the public in participating with this because without this, there is really no functionality to the emergency departments and the tertiary care centres,” he said.


Shared Health confirmed with CTV Winnipeg that it has sent some patients requiring intensive to the pediatric unit at the Health Sciences Centre.

The organization confirmed two younger adult patients who do not have COVID-19 were being cared for in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) Thursday morning.

“This move to accommodate some adult patients in the PICU is not unique to Manitoba and has been used in other provinces in response to COVID-19,” a Shared Health spokesperson said in a statement. “The PICU did also provide care for some adult patients during Manitoba’s third wave. Adult patients continue to receive highly specialized care in this physical environment. Contingency planning is also in place to ensure capacity remains for any pediatric patients who require this high level of care.”

The spokesperson added this is one step being done to increase ICU capacity across the province.

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