ER patients at Steinbach hospital being triaged in their cars, union says

Nurses at the hospital in Steinbach, Man., are having to triage some patients in their cars because they don’t have space in the emergency department, their union says.

There’s a “dramatically increasing number of COVID-positive patients” arriving Bethesda Regional Health Centre, according to Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson.

The hospital is struggling with capacity, the union says, with patients arriving on their own and by ambulance.

Multiple units are experiencing outbreaks and at least seven nurses in the hospital have already tested positive for COVID-19, the union says.

“There are also reports that some supplies and PPE are not being restocked in a timely manner, and that there are basic equipment shortages, including commodes and infusion pumps,” a release from the union reads.

The hospital is also only staffed at or below baseline levels, despite the surge in patients, and additional nurses and support staff are needed immediately, the union says.

“Health officials do not appear to have an adequate plan to meet the dramatically increasing need, despite having months to prepare.”

‘It’s not unusual’: Siragusa

Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said the hospital staff “certainly are busy.”

“It’s not unusual for health care workers to go out to the ambulance bay and do their triage and assess before bringing them in,” Siragusa said during a press briefing Friday.

It’s not just COVID but other medical issues that are making the ER busy, she said.

“Yes they are busy, but that’s the flow. The flow should be happening. And I think they’re doing the best they can in a busy situation.”

Siragusa said some patients will be transferred out of Bethesda, which is part of the planning for a surge.

“If there are patients who are lower acuity, it wouldn’t be unexpected that they’re transferred to a different hospital. That’s part of their strategy,” she said.

“Like I said for the past week, the intensity of this is is going to increase and we’re all starting to feel it.”