Emergency room doctor frustrated by uptick in COVID cases in southern Manitoba

An emergency room doctor in southern Manitoba is growing frustrated as COVID-19 cases continue to climb, saying younger patients are ending up in the hospital, and people aren’t getting tested before coming in.

The region makes up around 15 per cent of the province's population but accounts for half of all COVID cases, with another 17 added on Tuesday.

With the uptick in cases, Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach is admitting several patients a day to the ICU.

"You know, a lot of patients are in their 20s and 30s and saying, 'Oh, I was confused by what I was seeing on social media, so I just didn't get my vaccine’," said Dr. Jen Anderson, who is a family physician in the area and also works at Bethesda Regional Health Centre.

Anderson noted many people are showing up to hospital with serious symptoms, yet they haven't been tested.

She said the reasons she’s heard from patients for not getting tested vary from not wanting to wait in line, not wanting to test positive so they can work, and people who deny they have COVID.

"Even a year and a half into this, that reassurance that this could be COVID, and you probably should be tested – even if it is just to make sure that if you are doing okay, that you aren't passing it to someone else."

On Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said restrictions for the area are possible.

"So we're certainly not ruling out a regional approach. There are certainly challenges with a regional only approach, as we know there's a lot of mobility," said Roussin on Monday afternoon.

Business owners who could impacted by regional restrictions are concerned about what will happen if they come into effect.

"Mentally, it's pretty tough,” said Jeff Eidse, who is the owner of Sweaty Training and Conditioning. “We try to make a plan, we try to do what we can in between there, but uncertainty all the time,"

Anderson said the best way to ensure the fourth wave doesn't last long is for all people to get vaccinated.

"Ninety-nine per cent of patients coming into the ER are unvaccinated, so that tells us that vaccination is really helping this year," said Anderson.

The Southern Health Region has a vaccination rate of 65.6 per cent, while 80.3 per cent of eligible Manitobans have received both doses of the vaccine.