'Unprecedented': 30 COVID-19 patients admitted to Manitoba ICUs in a 48-hour period

Manitoba's devastating third wave of COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for hospitals, with Shared Health reporting 30 COVID-19 patients being admitted to the ICU over 48 hours between Friday and Sunday.

The health-care provider calls the number of admissions, "unprecedented."

In a news conference Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said Manitobans need to continue to follow restrictions, so hospitalization rates fall.

"Right now, we are seeing too many Manitobans requiring hospital care, especially requiring ICU care. We know that we have too many people in our ICUs in Manitoba as well as other provinces," He said.

Dr. Roussin said even if the case numbers fall, the strain on Manitoba's ICUs will still remain high.

"We are dealing with a lot of case numbers right now, so high case number puts (a) strain on the health-care system," he said. "Of course, that's a lagging indicator, so if we see these case counts coming down, we are still going to see strain on the health-care system for a week or two."

To date, 246 COVID-19 patients have been admitted to ICUs in Manitoba for May.

Shared Health said the number is nearly five times greater than the 50 COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU the previous month.

As of midnight Monday, 122 patients were in a Manitoba ICU, including 71 patients who have or are recovering from COVID-19. Shared Health noted a record 17 COVID-19 patients under the age of 40 were in ICU, a 54 per cent jump from only one week ago.

Shared Health said the normal, pre-COVID-19 baseline capacity for ICU is 72 patients.

TRANSFERS OUT OF PROVINCE

As ICU capacity remains maxed inside the province, five more COVID-19 patients requiring critical care were sent out of Manitoba.

According to Shared Health, the five patients were sent to hospitals in Ontario on Saturday.

The current number of critically ill COVID-19 patients from Manitoba currently being treated out of province is 36.

Shared Health said one patient was repatriated to a hospital in Manitoba for ongoing care after being discharged from an Ontario ICU on Sunday.

The total number of COVID-19 patients transported out of the province since May 18 now sits at 40, with 39 being sent to Ontario and one being sent to Saskatchewan.

So far, four of the patients sent out of Manitoba have returned.

INCREASING ICU STAFFING

As staffing remains the biggest issue in Manitoba's ICUs, Shared Health said it is implementing several new staffing measures.

The health-care provider said a new agreement with the University of Manitoba College of Rehabilitation Sciences and Rady Faculty of Health Sciences will allow 13 respiratory therapy students to graduate early and join in the ongoing pandemic response.

Shared Health said the graduates have already completed most of their necessary competencies and will finish any outstanding items during their orientation.

An additional 15 nurses are also enrolled in a two-week orientation for critical care, said Shared Health. Once completed, the nurses will join their 104 colleagues, who have already completed the course and are currently working in the ICU.

Six Canadian Red Cross nurses are also now in Manitoba training at the Health Sciences Centre.

The Canadian Armed Forces continue to assist in Manitoba as well.

Shared Health said two multi-purpose medical assistance teams are now assisting at an alternative isolation accommodation site in Winnipeg.

Three medical lab technologists from the Canadian Armed Forces also began training last Friday to support COVID-19 testing in Shared Health labs.

Shared Health said planning is underway to confirm and allocate additional resources to support Manitoba's COVID-19 response in the coming days.