May 28, 2020

Winnipeg
11° C, Light rain showers

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Province sends updated coronavirus guidance to ERs, urgent care centres

Hospitals told to triage patients suspected of COVID-19 infection as quickly as possible

The email sent on behalf of Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Brent Roussin said hospitals are to triage suspected patients as expeditiously as possible into a single room to reduce exposure to waiting room contacts, and maintain two metres of separation “if unable to immediately isolate.” (Mike Sudoma / Free Press files)</p>

The email sent on behalf of Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Brent Roussin said hospitals are to triage suspected patients as expeditiously as possible into a single room to reduce exposure to waiting room contacts, and maintain two metres of separation “if unable to immediately isolate.” (Mike Sudoma / Free Press files)

After inquiring about concerns that a suspected COVID-19 patient at Children’s Hospital’s emergency department was left in a crowded waiting room over the weekend, the province sent updated instructions Tuesday afternoon to Manitoba emergency and urgent care departments.

The email sent on behalf of Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Brent Roussin, slugged "Updated COVID-19 Information — ACTION REQUIRED" said hospitals are to triage suspected patients as expeditiously as possible into a single room to reduce exposure to waiting room contacts, and maintain two metres of separation "if unable to immediately isolate." It said to have both the patient and whomever is accompanying them wear a procedure or surgical mask — even if they don’t have any symptoms.

There has been no confirmed COVID-19 case in Manitoba, the risk of catching it remains low, and the premier and provincial health leaders have assured the public that the system is prepared to deal with the virus if and when it gets here. Those representing nurses, paramedics and home health care workers on the front lines, however, have expressed doubts and concerns.

"The government may have a very good plan in place but that information has not been communicated and it hasn’t been disseminated to the staff," Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said Tuesday prior to the province sending out information. "We’re hearing from nurses ‘We don’t know what the plan is, we don’t know what the protocol is.’"  The weekend incident at Children’s Hospital alarmed nurses who fear a lack of communication resulted in a clerk not isolating a suspected COVID-19 case, she said.

"The patient was left to wait in a crowded ER waiting room," said Jackson.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday morning that he wasn’t aware of the situation on the weekend at Children’s Hospital but was confident staff know what to do and follow procedures.

"I know that there have been respiratory illnesses presenting at emergency rooms and protocols are in place," Friesen said in an interview.

A spokesperson for Shared Health said she couldn’t speak to a specific incident but said leaders are regularly doing walk-throughs of the highest volume areas — including Children’s emergency — to ensure that processes are being followed. "If any gaps are identified, they are addressed or updated," she said.

The nurses union wants to make sure the system is ready for an outbreak, said Jackson. There’s a shortage of nurses and not enough of them are fitted for N-95 masks to make sure they don’t get infected with the virus and can’t come to work, she said. If there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 with very sick people, there aren’t enough ICU or inpatient beds, Jackson said.

"Where are we going to put these patients that are very ill?" she asked.

Friesen dismissed concerns about a lack of nurses and front-line staff at HSC being outfitted with N-95 masks, or there being enough available ICU beds.

"At the current time we have adequate provisions," said Friesen. The minister said there are "extra ICU beds in the system right now."

The province is talking to the federal government about a system-wide, nationwide procurement and distribution strategy if more equipment is needed, said Friesen.

"All of us as a global community are really responding very nimbly to this because it looks different from day to day."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 10:43 PM CST: Story fixed.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us