MORE surgeries are being cancelled in Manitoba, as hospitals struggle to cope with record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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MORE surgeries are being cancelled in Manitoba, as hospitals struggle to cope with record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

This week, surgery slates in Winnipeg and Brandon were cut back even further, and starting Monday, two more slates will be cancelled at Grace Hospital so surgical nurses and operating-room staff can be redeployed, Shared Health confirmed to the Free Press.

Despite an ever-growing backlog of surgeries, non-emergency procedures have continued in this wave of the pandemic, particularly for outpatient and day surgery in cases where patients don’t need a hospital bed.

However, as Manitoba hit record-high hospitalizations this week, officials reduced the number of daily available surgery slates at Winnipeg’s Victoria General Hospital to one (from three) and cut in half the number of surgeries performed in Brandon.

The number of endoscopy rooms at Victoria was also halved, from two to one.

Starting Monday, two daily surgery slates will be cancelled at Grace Hospital, where surgeries had been carrying on at near-normal volumes, Shared Health stated. Day surgeries and outpatient surgeries are expected to continue.

The staff are being sent to work in ICUs.

The number of surgical staff across Manitoba who are currently redeployed was not made available Friday. A Shared Health spokesperson said 52 Winnipeg surgical staff were redeployed in November.

“While most sites continue to provide a variety of non-emergent surgeries, the capacity to do so has been reduced in recent weeks due to high levels of COVID activity in the province and the resultant pressure that has placed on critical care and medicine units. This has been further impacted by a number of new measures implemented this week affecting surgical capacity so staff can be redeployed or reassigned to other areas,” the spokesperson stated.

“It is important to note all emergent and urgent cancer surgeries continue to be prioritized at this time. Elective and non-urgent surgeries are constantly reviewed by physicians to prioritize patients who medically should not wait any longer for procedures to be performed.”

The number of backlogged surgeries and diagnostic tests in Manitoba is at least 153,320 cases, according to estimates released by Doctors Manitoba this week.

— Katie May

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.