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‘The fourth wave for me is scary’: ER nurse comments on lack of nursing in Manitoba

‘The fourth wave for me is scary’: ER nurse comments on lack of nursing in Manitoba


Manitoba’s shortage of nurses is not unique to any hospital, and a nurse working in Steinbach says the environment sends nurses to run.

Margo Singleton works as an emergency room nurse at the Bethesda Regional Health Center in Steinbach. She speaks out as Manitoba and its western Canadian neighbors avert the fourth wave of the pandemic.

“I don’t think people understand the real picture of what we’ve been up against and what we’ve been through,” Singleton said.

She said her ward has about 25 percent nursing space, and thousands of nursing hours go unfilled. She said she feels the staff is being pushed to their breaking point.

“We tell family members that we can not let them into our ward,” she said. “We are being shouted at by family members.”

A spokesman for Shared Health told CTV News that the lack of nursing is provincial and is not unique to any facility.

Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said the third wave was the turning point for many nurses who decided to leave. She worries about the fourth wave.

“I do not see Manitoba in the critical nursing shortage we are in, in a position where we want to be able to be a good neighbor,” she said.

Manitoba Premier Kelvin Goertzen said there has been no official request for ICU beds from Alberta or Saskatchewan to return from the third wave

“If we had the opportunity to offer support, I think we would like to,” Goertzen said Thursday.

A spokesman for Shared Health said ICU capacity is floating but remains above both current and expected demand.

As of Thursday, there were 90 patients in Manitoba ICUS, including 12 who have COVID-19. The prepandemic baseline was 72, of which 22 were devoted to cardiac patients.

“The fourth wave for me is scary,” Singleton said.

The nurse said at her health center that there is no intensive care unit and they are doing everything they can to fill shifts in other wards.

She said more needs to be done to encourage nurses to get the job and stay.

“I do this job because I am compassionate towards people and because I want to make a difference,” she said.

Southern Health said executives at Bethesda Regional Health Center have been working on direct care reshuffles to support the delivery of safe patient care. It said there have been recent successes in recruiting new nurses to the site.

It predicts that with vacancies planned to return in the fall, and by the end of the holiday peaks, current vacancies will improve.

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