July 6, 2020

Winnipeg
24° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Winnipeg Free Press

ABOVE THE FOLD

Subscribe

'Just to get in there, that's the hardest part'

Winnipeg cardiac backlog 'not a shock,' says former patient whose surgery was delayed three times

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/3/2019 (485 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A man whose cardiac surgery was rescheduled three times at St. Boniface Hospital says the process was frustrating, but his care was "top notch" — once he finally got looked after.

The surgeries were rescheduled throughout October and November, twice before he arrived and a third time when he was already in hospital and prepped for the operating room.

The Free Press is not naming the 61-year-old man, who didn’t want his name shared along with his health information.

The man required open-heart surgery to fix a hole in his heart he had had since birth. It was an elective surgery, meaning it wasn’t as urgent as some other emergency cases the Winnipeg hospital deals with.

The surgery could be rescheduled, though the man said the constant rescheduling caused him undue stress in an already tense situation.

On his fourth visit to the hospital, the man said nurses tried to turn him away again.

"So we got in there, got prepped, I got my chest shaved. We’re all ready to go for the operation and the nurse came in and said there’s a delay," he recalled Friday.

"We got in there, got prepped, I got my chest shaved. We’re all ready to go for the operation and the nurse came in and said there’s a delay." –Cardiac patient

The doctor had an emergency elsewhere, the nurse told him.

"My wife says, ‘We’re not going anywhere. We’re staying here until we get the operation.'"

Her protest paid off and he got the surgery on the fourth try.

On Monday, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said at least 120 elective cardiac surgeries had been rescheduled at the St. Boniface cardiac unit since the fall.

It also said 104 people were waiting in the community for surgery, with 64 of them fit and ready for operations. (The health authority said it couldn't provide updated numbers Friday.)

The WRHA previously said the frequent cardiac surgery rescheduling was happening due to a lack of available intensive care unit nurses. The region is seeking to train more nurses in the specialized field, and recently graduated 33 more from its critical care training program (12 have taken jobs with St. Boniface’s cardiac unit).

Signs point to the Bergen Cardiac Care center at the St. Boniface Hospital. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Signs point to the Bergen Cardiac Care center at the St. Boniface Hospital. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

On Friday, the Manitoba Nurses Union said it was told there are only four nurses signed up for the next critical care training program, a number the WRHA could not confirm.

The man, who is doing well about three months post-surgery, said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the cardiac surgery backlog, since, "Right now, it’s the norm. I’ve been through it, so it’s not a shock."

"We were like, ‘That’s normal.’ But it shouldn’t be," he added.

He praised the work of the nursing staff at St. Boniface, who looked after him for about two weeks post-surgery due to complications.

"It was very frustrating, but once you do get in, you’re taken care of. Those nurses are great," he said. "The care was just top notch and everything. But just to get in there, that’s the hardest part."

"The care was just top notch and everything. But just to get in there, that’s the hardest part." –Cardiac patient

If the cardiac unit's problems don't improve, the man worried the situation may turn fatal.

"Somebody’s going to die one of these days, if they haven’t already.

"A lot of people have heart diseases and I guess maybe the anxiety could put pressure on them from being cancelled too many times," he said.

"It sure worked me and my wife up."

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

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.