'We need more doctors': Winnipeg man concerned after father waits hours to be seen at hospital

A Winnipeg man is raising concerns about wait times in hospitals after his dad waited almost 14 hours to be seen by a doctor.

Dave Diduch’s father William was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and because of the disease was taken to a hospital at 12:45 a.m. on Monday by ambulance.

“He can be up and walking around and eating and chipper and talkative and 15 minutes later he can be going into a high fever and have the shakes and barely move because he is in so much pain,” said Diduch.

Diduch said his dad was taken to Grace Hospital and triaged when he arrived but was told it might be quite some time before a doctor would be able to see him.

Eventually, around 2:30 p.m., William was seen and moved to a room.

Diduch said the process since his dad got to the hospital has been frustrating and confusing.

“It wasn’t my sole intention to complain about a service or the attention he is receiving at the hospital. It’s rather that our hospitals are currently being overrun. They are full, past full, maximum capacity to the point where emergency cases are being turned away to other out-of-town hospitals.”

He said more people need to be aware of the problems going on in our hospital system and that people need to still be aware of COVID-19.

“We don’t have the medical personnel that is currently needed, not only during a pandemic but overall,” he said. “We need more doctors and medical personnel, manning hospitals, to begin with.”

He said it feels like people have moved on from COVID, but in fact, it is still a real issue that is impacting the health-care system and more people need to pay attention to what is happening in Winnipeg and the entire province.

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) said they can’t discuss the individual case due to privacy legislation, but noted wait times for lower acuity patients are higher than normal.

“Wait times for our sickest and most injured patients continue to be minimal, and are being prioritized to ensure they receive the care they need without delay,” the spokesperson said.

“The current wait time challenges did not develop overnight, and have been worsened by our ongoing need to respond to COVID-19. Other factors contributing to the high wait times include increase sick calls and worsening delays in accessing inpatient beds. The WRHA and Shared Health have made this a top priority and have begun to take immediate actions to address.”

The spokesperson noted the Manitoba government is expanding a pilot project at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) that will “allow for implementation, further evaluation and growth of the Physician-in-Triage collaborative model, which targets higher acuity patients in waiting rooms.”

The project would see a senior emergency department physician in triage every day at HSC along with a triage nurse and nursing assistant for a six-month period.

The program could also be expanded to St. Boniface and Grace hospitals.

“This model of care ensures all higher-acuity patients are triaged by a physician while waiting to be seen.”

They added other changes include ambulance transport protocols which would see lower acuity patients be taken to urgent care centres instead of hospitals, as well as discharging patients that are ready to move into personal care home beds or home with supports in place.

“We are committed to providing high-quality care to all of our patients and thank all of our health-care workers for their tireless efforts during this challenging time.”

A spokesperson for Manitoba Health said the pilot project at HSC is the latest investment they have made to address wait time concerns.

“Other initiatives recently put in place following discussions with staff and physicians include the leveling of transport arrivals across all sites and improving lab turnaround time for patients requiring admission,” the spokesperson said.

“Our government’s highest priority is the health care of Manitobans and our sickest and most injured patients will continue to be seen without delay at emergency departments across the province.”