Winnipeg children’s emergency department seeing increase in sick kids

The children’s hospital emergency department in Winnipeg is seeing an uptick in patients seeking care, prompting a spike in wait times.

Dr. Karen Gripp, the medical director of the children’s emergency department, says the hospital has been seeing more cases of influenza and RSV among patients.

“Just in general, there’s more patients getting sick, so that’s contributing to the longer wait times,” Gripp told CTV News.

According to data on the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority website, the average wait at the children’s emergency department was about 1.5 hours last month. As of Wednesday afternoon, the expected wait was 5.5 hours.

The increase in patients has prompted a reminder from the medical director that not all symptoms of respiratory virus require a trip to the emergency room.

In a letter obtained by CTV News, Gripp said at least one third of all children attending the ER in the past week could have been treated elsewhere, or managed at home.

“It’s not that all those patients should stay at home. They can be seen in walk-in clinics, they could be seen in urgent cares, they could be seen by their family doctor or pediatrician,” she said.

“That could be managed somewhere else outside of an emergency department where we really need to keep our resources available and ready for patients who have true emergencies.”

She said parents should bring their kids into the emergency room if they are having trouble breathing or are suffering from dehydration due to respiratory viruses.

Gripp said the trend is likely expected to continue for several more weeks.

She said if parents or caregivers bring their children to the emergency department, they will get the care they need. However, she said low acuity patients will need to wait longer. 

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