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Manitoba nurses send out SOS messages about gaps in care

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The Manitoba Nurses Union posted an SOS message alerting patients about gaps in health care, including at Boundary Trails Health Centre, which has the largest obstetrical site in the Southern Health region.

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The Manitoba Nurses Union posted an SOS message alerting patients about gaps in health care, including at Boundary Trails Health Centre, which has the largest obstetrical site in the Southern Health region.

A spokesperson for the union said Friday there was to be another weekend in which non-emergency obstetrics patients were to be diverted to other hospitals. On July 16-17, patients were sent to other hospitals because of a staffing shortage.

Southern Health, however, said it was business as usual; it insisted no obstetrics patients needed to be diverted Saturday and Sunday.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The Manitoba Nurses Union posted an SOS message alerting patients about gaps in health care at Boundary Trails Health Centre this past weekend.

“Our units were fully operational,” a statement issued Monday said.

“Efforts are being made on a regular basis to keep services in place.”

The union maintains the directive to divert obstetrics patients from the hospital, which is located between Winkler and Morden, was issued for a second time before the weekend.

“We heard, last minute, from a nurse that this was happening and wanted to SOS it out to the public,” a spokeswoman for the union said Monday.

“We can only assume this will be a regular occurrence given the fact that the system is suffering so badly.”

The union revived its SOS system of warning patients about gaps in the health care system.

In December, it used the alerts on its social media pages to let the public know about the critical nursing shortage in northern Manitoba. It resumed the SOS messages last month.

Friday’s SOS concerned Boundary Trails, where despite multiple nurses working 16-hour shifts, the emergency department was “critically short-staffed.” It said surgeries were cancelled on the weekend.

The union said it’s going to keep issuing SOS “cries for help” from nurses until the government acts.

“Sadly, it seems as though people are surprised by what they are reading,” a statement from MNU president Darlene Jackson said Monday.

“MNU has been calling for action, resources, and creative solutions for years. We have offered up countless suggestions, sat on committees and task forces, held press conferences, and even met face-to-face with this premier to discuss the gravity of the situation. Still, there seems to be no urgency to act. Therefore, we will continue to share these SOS cries for help until this government starts to pay attention.”

One SOS message talks about a nurse from Gladstone being mandated to work a 23-hour shift. Comments responding to the posts have included information and resources, such as a chart showing when and where emergency room doctors are available in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region.

“It seems that our SOS social-media posts are getting quite a bit of traction lately,” Jackson said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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