Health-care improvements are needed in 2022
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2021 (518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In River Heights and in Manitoba, we are caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a critical time, with the Omicron variant coming at a point when Manitoba’s health-care system is greatly stressed just dealing with the fourth wave. We cannot wait for a report from a task force, which was only appointed a couple weeks ago, when we need action right now.
Nurses are burned out beyond belief, with short staffing levels and high acuity caseloads. This needs to be better acknowledged. There needs to be a major effort to provide better working conditions for nurses, to achieve the staffing levels required for high quality care, and to ensure routine medical and surgical care can happen even during the pandemic.
In the last two weeks, Manitoba Liberals have called for a series of measures to address the current situation. Manitoba needs free rapid covid tests to be made readily available through pharmacies, libraries, liquor marts, malls, and other readily accessible community locations. We need to make vaccines mandatory for workers in long-term care. We must enhance vaccination requirements for children. Businesses and organizations should disclose their vaccination policies for staff and customers so that clients can make informed decisions.
For too long, communication about public health orders have not been clear. A messaging campaign to directly challenge misinformation around vaccines and public health orders would help with misinformation. Last, the approval of monoclonal antibodies (MABS) to reduce symptoms for unvaccinated individuals who fall ill with COVID-19 would likely reduce deaths in the province owing to COVID-19. This would also reduce hospital and ICU needs.
At the same time as we address the pandemic directly, we also need attention to the very large surgical backlog.
In this respect, we have called for a plan to restore Manitoba’s capacity to care for its own in the public health system within 12 months. Manitobans who need procedures during the 12-month rebuilding period should be offered the option of travelling to other provinces for care or as a last-ditch measure, the U.S.
The Progressive Conservative government must create a “health equity fund” that will cover costs of travel for patients and family members who cannot otherwise afford to travel. Additionally, the PCs need to lift the cap on the number of hip and knee replacements and eye surgeries that can be performed in a given year so that surgical teams in Manitoba can address the backlog.
There also needs to be “truth in reporting” on wait times. Currently, many wait times are defined as the time between a surgeon scheduling a procedure and the procedure itself — usually a few weeks, whereas real-world wait times are in the months or years. More accurate reporting would reflect the time elapsed between identification of a problem and its resolution.
For 2022, we want and need to firmly tackle the current health-care situation and to take effective action in order for Manitobans to be able to have a better life in the coming year.
River Heights constituency report
Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.