'Invisible patients': 15,000 surgeries postponed in Winnipeg alone in past 15 months


Shared Health’s chief nursing officer said the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have an impact on the number of surgeries that can be performed in Manitoba.

Speaking during a public health update on Wednesday, Lanette Siragusa spoke about the challenges the health-care system is facing in caring for non-COVID patients.

“We know that outside of ICU, thousands of non-COVID patients, invisible patients really, remain waiting for care,” she said. “Approximately 15,000 non-urgent and elective surgeries have been postponed in Winnipeg alone in the past 15 months.”

Siragusa said hospitals and ICUs in Manitoba continued to be stretched during the pandemic.

Last week, Manitoba airlifted two patients to Quebec and Ontario for elective cardiac surgeries.

As of midnight, 151 Manitobans were receiving intensive care, including 97 COVID-19 patients (67 in Manitoba, 27 in Ontario, two in Alberta, and one in Saskatchewan).

Siragusa said no ICU patients with COVID-19 have been transferred outside of Manitoba since June 4.

She added two Manitobans transported to Ontario with COVID-19 on May 25 have died. The individuals were a man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s.

Siragusa said the health-care system has been forced to adapt with each wave. She said 15 more nurses have started a two-week orientation to work in the ICU, joining 119 that have already completed the program. She added the province has also put in a virtual COVID program to monitor patients at home and increase hospital bed capacity.

“As of Monday, we have 43 patients who are enrolled in this program, 31 who are on home oxygen,” she said. “This program, since launching in December, has saved 1,337 hospital inpatient days.”

Siragusa said Manitobans need to follow the public health orders and get vaccinated to help ease the strain on hospitals.

“I know that everyone is very tired of the public health restrictions, but we just need to hang on for a little bit longer, so that the transmission rate can continue to fall, and the pressure on our hospitals can begin to ease,” she said.

“We need to do this for our health-care workers who have shown unwavering dedication to their profession and to their patients over the past 15 months.”