Province still lacks hospital triage protocol for fourth wave
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This article was published 07/09/2021 (343 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba’s new health minister is being asked to establish a hospital triage protocol in time for the pandemic’s fourth wave.
A group of advocates sent 17 recommendations for a health-care protocol to the premier, health minister and Shared Health on Tuesday.
Their goal is to ensure everyone, regardless of age, disability or other health conditions, is given equal access to live-saving treatment during the pandemic.
The group has been lobbying the province to implement and publicize a pandemic triage protocol since last fall. To date, the government has not done so.
“Maybe the fourth time’s the charm. All we can do is keep pushing and asking,” said David Kron, a representative of the Human Rights Triage Protocol Coalition.
“Who knows what the fourth wave is going to look like, and we’re telling the government that there is a need for a protocol, period.
“There are a lot of questions (about) who gets care when resources are tight, and we just want to have an open discussion about that.”
Health Minister Audrey Gordon wouldn’t promise to enact a triage protocol.
“We always want to be transparent as a government and as a health-care system, and so we will put in place all the systems and all the information that we believe the public needs to know about. If it’s triage at that time, we’ll certainly make that available,” Gordon said when asked Tuesday if the government would release a triage protocol.
The group recommends the government develop pandemic triage processes and seek feedback from the elderly and people with disabilities. They want to make sure health-care providers are educated about ableism, ageism, disability issues and legal obligations.
In May, then-health minister Heather Stefanson pointed to Shared Health’s ethics framework when asked about setting up a triage protocol.
“The ethical framework was put in place to ensure that in the event that a triage protocol is needed, it is there to help doctors put that in place,” she said at the time. The framework states health-care leadership should develop a separate triage process for the distribution of finite resources in a pandemic.
Stefanson’s comments came right before Manitoba began airlifting COVID-19 patients to Ontario hospitals because our ICUs were full.
Opposition health critic Uzoma Asagwara said it’s “inexcusable” there’s still no triage protocol.
“There’s really no excuse, 18 months into the pandemic, that they wouldn’t have already established a triage protocol and made that public.”
— with files from Carol Sanders
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.