Steinbach hospital reassigns staff in response to surge of COVID-19 cases

Health-care workers at Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach, Man., are being reassigned to help treat patients in the emergency room, including those with COVID-19, as 93 more cases of the illness were announced Wednesday in the Southern Health region, which includes Steinbach.

The support is meant to address ongoing staffing issues, after Bethesda health-care workers said last week the hospital was in desperate need of help in the face of a surge of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“There still are challenges related to staffing, but it has improved over the weekend,” Manitoba Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“This is thanks to reassignment of staff from other areas, including Bethesda’s surgical staff who have been redeployed.”

She says the Southern Health region is reporting a more stable volume of patients going to the emergency department as well.

“While patient flow continues to have its challenges, the support from other hospitals in surrounding areas within Southern Health-Santé Sud has been very helpful, so thanks to all who heeded the call,” Siragusa said.

“They are managing locally, and whenever possible, whenever they need clinical teams and other facilities throughout the province, we’ll help out and support them as required.”

Health-care workers in Steinbach reported last week that in some cases, they had to triage more stable patients waiting in the hospital’s parking lot in their cars, while those who needed more care had to stay in the ambulance bay with paramedics.

Last Friday, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen called the situation at Bethesda “concerning,” and said he had been made aware earlier that afternoon that some patients were waiting hours to get ER beds.

Space for patients is something Siragusa says the province is working on.

“Our health-care system continues to expand to meet the increased needs of the COVID-related hospitalizations,” she said.

A record-high 249 people are in hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Across the province, there are now a total of 102 critical care beds, of which 88 are currently in use.

In addition, there are now 40 people in intensive care with COVID-19 — about half of the total number of people in intensive care in the province. Thirty-eight of the 77 patients currenty on ventilators are COVID-positive.

Staff across the province who normally work in surgery and other departments are being redeployed to medicine units to help with COVID-19 cases in hospitals, Siragusa said.

“It’s disruptive for our staff. It’s also really disruptive to our other patients,” she said, adding that 771 elective and non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled since Oct. 26 to free up capacity to handle COVID-19 cases.

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