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Sent to hotel amid surgery holdup

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ONGOING medical care delays have left a Swan River resident with the dubious distinction of the longest wait for a surgical bone repair at Health Sciences Centre — while bearing witness to the chaos of last weekend’s glut of emergency patients.

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ONGOING medical care delays have left a Swan River resident with the dubious distinction of the longest wait for a surgical bone repair at Health Sciences Centre — while bearing witness to the chaos of last weekend’s glut of emergency patients.

Tiffany Kematch was sent to HSC Winnipeg for surgery after she broke her knee and leg 11 days ago. Her appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled multiple times.

Staff told her she has had the longest wait for such a surgical procedure in the hospital’s history, Kematch said in an interview.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Tiffany Kematch was sent to HSC Winnipeg for surgery after she broke her knee and leg 11 days ago. Her appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled multiple times.

“It was supposed to be appointment upon arrival, and they had me wait in ER for 14 hours, and now here I am 11 days later,” she said. “My knee is partially shattered down to my shin and it’s going to need plates and screws in there to put it back together.

“It’s only an hour-long surgery, so I don’t know why I’ve been waiting so long, but I understand they are short-staffed.”

During her time in hospital, home to Manitoba’s largest emergency department, she has watched as staff struggled to keep up with high patient inflow, most notably last weekend.

“People were in agony, crying in pain,” she said. “They have a triage there and they give people medication… After such a long wait, medication only lasts for so long. Everyone in there is miserable with whatever they are dealing with.”

Recent media reports said the hospital’s emergency department had no available beds last weekend, forcing people to wait sometimes days to be admitted. There were reports of more than 10 patients lined up on stretchers in the department’s entrance hallway because there was no space inside.

It’s been like that the past two weekends she’s been at the hospital, Kematch said.

“It sounds like it’s getting worse every day,” she said. “I don’t know how they are ever going to fix this. I have a one-year-old (son)… I have to go outside to see him. We (live) five hours away, so I had to have him driven here.”

Her son isn’t allowed into the ward due to COVID-19 restrictions and the high patient volume.

Kematch said she understands the Manitoba health-care system needs more workers, but wonders where they are going to come from.

On Wednesday, Kematch was discharged and sent to a hotel across the road while she waits for the hospital to schedule surgery.

“They said I could be waiting another three or four days, I don’t really know,” she said. “I have to wait in a hotel with my shattered knee because they need the bed I was in for someone else.”

There is a lot of pressure on the province’s health system and there are patients awaiting surgery for longer periods than what is normal, a spokesperson for Shared Health said in an email.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of all patients and encourage those with concerns to be in contact with their care team and/or our patient relations office.”

The spokesperson couldn’t comment on specific cases, but did confirm patients deemed stable while awaiting surgery are discharged and sent home to wait for a surgery date. In these instances, patients are given instructions and contacts if they need more support or reassessment. They are also provided oral medications to manage pain.

If a patient is from a rural or northern area and deemed stable enough to manage their condition on their own, they may be housed in a nearby hotel. Once surgery is scheduled, the hospital contacts the patient, who is then readmitted, the spokesperson said.

Doctors Manitoba didn’t respond to a request for comment by deadline.

— Brandon Sun

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