Increased hallway medicine sign of things to come: MNU president

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A leaked memo from Victoria Hospital administration stating emergency patients would be placed in hallways and staff lounges in an attempt to address the “current bed crisis” is a sign of what’s to come, according to Manitoba’s nurses’ union.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/05/2022 (277 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A leaked memo from Victoria Hospital administration stating emergency patients would be placed in hallways and staff lounges in an attempt to address the “current bed crisis” is a sign of what’s to come, according to Manitoba’s nurses’ union.

“I think it’s just a sign of the times, and I think that hallway medicine and putting patients into areas that aren’t necessarily patient care areas are going to be a reality we’re seeing in every hospital in this province very shortly,” Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson told the Free Press Saturday.

The notice, released Friday, said changes are being implemented across Winnipeg hospitals and these patients will be up to two days away from being discharged and “fairly independent with relatively low care needs.”

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES “We just do not have the beds in this system, there’s no flex in this system any longer,” said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.

“At all sites across the Region, this will mean pulling more patients out of the ERs and UCs onto the in-patient units, to wherever patient care space can be created — in some cases in non-traditional locations,” Victoria Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Ken Cavers wrote in the memo.

The decision comes after a directive to ambulances to divert patients with less severe emergencies away from the city’s three emergency rooms and toward urgent-care wards at Seven Oaks, Concordia and Victoria hospital.

Jackson said she’d heard about the memo along with many Winnipeg nurses, and suggested the decision had possibly been made to mitigate high wait times in emergency rooms and urgent care clinics.

“There’s been a lot of pressure on this government about wait times — so my question is, is this a way of decreasing wait times to actually sort of make it look like the health-care system is able to manage these patients?” she said.

“Because wait times in emergency are very public… I think this may be a way of the province saying, let’s get those patients out of emergency, we don’t want wait times as high, which means patients are shuffled into areas that are not necessarily patient care areas.”

Shared Health data from this week reveals that nearly 14 per cent of patients who visited Winnipeg emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics in March left without receiving care, which the highest rate being 24.1 per cent at Health Sciences Centre.

“We just do not have the beds in this system, there’s no flex in this system any longer,” Jackson said. “So I’m not surprised they’re using any space they can.”

Nurses have been left scrambling to find places to put admitted patients, she said, adding to the already overwhelming stress and exhaustion being felt in understaffed wards by overworked nurses.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Shared Health data from this week reveals that nearly 14 per cent of patients who visited Winnipeg emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics in March left without receiving care.

“Pick up the pieces, keep it glued together? That’s something nurses in this province have been doing before the pandemic … nurses’ workloads in this province are already incredibly heavy,” she said.

She said the MNU would be working with Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to assess the effect of the situation on Winnipeg nurses.

“This is just asking nurses to do more with less again, asking them to step up again,” she said.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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