‘We need to be cooperative:’ Winnipeg anesthesiologist calls on people to come together against COVID-19

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg anesthesiologist is hopeful Manitoba’s new public health orders will curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Dr. Renate Singh put out a call earlier this week that was widely shared on social media, pleading with people to stay home.

“It’s unfortunate but completely necessary to keep people apart from each other,” Singh said in an interview.

Singh works at two hospitals, Grace and the Health Sciences Centre, and has seen first-hand how COVID-19 is straining the system.

She feels frustrated some people are disputing what health officials and frontline providers are saying about capacity issues in hospitals.

“We need to be cooperative,” said Singh. “We need to get this under control.”

Singh hopes people summon the same collective spirit they have used to fight floods and weather storms to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

“It makes me very sad and very frustrated that I can’t see the same level of cooperation here, in a state of local emergency where our hospital is being challenged,” Singh said.

Just this week she saw her colleagues in intensive care tending to COVID-19 patients on ventilators in the emergency department, who were waiting for places to go.

In a Facebook post on Sunday calling on people to do their part, Singh shared photos of a recovery room turned intensive care unit to make more space for COVID-19 patients.

“No system has limitless resources,” Singh said. “Eventually, if people don’t come together in some sort of collective effort to slow this down, the system will get overwhelmed.”

As hospital resources are stretched, Singh and her colleagues at HSC have received messages of appreciation and support from grade five and six students at École George V School.

“The messages that stand out the most for me from these young students is their promise to ask their loved ones to stay home,” said Shared Health’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa.

A message that comes at a critical time.

Siragusa said as of midnight, 90 of 100 ICU beds in the province were occupied.

“Nearly half of the ICU patients, 43 of them have COVID,” said Siragusa. “Thirty-three of the 66 patients who are ventilated have COVID-19.”

In the past three weeks alone, nearly 900 elective and non-elective surgeries have been postponed.

Singh continues to work in the operating room with the patients who require urgent procedures, but she’s willing and prepared for redeployment to help in the ICUs if needed.

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