Manitoba will send pharmaceuticals to other provinces in need during the fourth wave, Premier Kelvin Goertzen said Friday.
Goertzen said the province has sent medications to Alberta for critically ill COVID-19 patients, and will help other provinces as much as it can in the fourth wave. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario took in Manitoba patients during the third-wave surge here.
"What we can do, we'd like to do," he said.
"We did ship doses of pharmaceuticals to Alberta for their ICU patients where we had the ability to do that."
Goertzen said he's had discussions with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe about the fourth wave and will offer assistance, but not in a way that would jeopardize Manitoba's health-care system.
"We're not going to do anything to diminish ICU capacity but again, we do have a responsibility where we can to help other provinces, and pharmaceuticals made sense," Goertzen said.
The premier made the comments during a news conference in Steinbach Friday morning, where he announced a $32-million expansion to the Bethesda Regional Health Centre that is expected to include 23 new acute-care beds and an in-hospital dialysis unit.
Currently, many patients in the area have to travel to Winnipeg to undergo dialysis.
The dialysis program expansion is expected to go out to tender later this year, with construction starting next spring, Goertzen said.
Goertzen said making decisions about new public-health orders that target unvaccinated residents were "gut-wrenching" but said Manitoba "can't get to that place again."
The new measures, including raising the province to orange-restricted, go into effect Tuesday.
"We need to do what we can to blunt the fourth wave, so every decision is based on what's the minimum amount of restrictions you can have to still be able to ensure that people can get those services.... I know that this is difficult but I think Manitobans have to understand that we can't get into the situation, we need to do everything that we possibly can to avoid the situation that we had in the third wave."
Manitoba is currently at surge capacity in its intensive care units — there were 19 COVID-19 patients in the ICU Friday morning, but close to 90 ICU patients total. Pre-pandemic, the province had 72 ICU beds
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.