Health officials downplay row of ambulances outside Winnipeg hospital

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Health officials downplay row of ambulances outside Winnipeg hospital
WATCH: Photos showing a row of ambulances parked outside St. Boniface hospital is no cause for concern according to the WRHA. Global's Amber McGuckin reports – Jan 5, 2018

Photos showing a row of ambulances parked outside St. Boniface hospital is no cause for concern according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

One picture, which was snapped around 3:15 Tuesday afternoon, shows at least six ambulances sitting outside the emergency room, but there is also room inside the ambulance bay for an additional two ambulances, meaning at least eight were lined up for access to the ER.

The WRHA says there were 28 ambulances on in the city at that time.

This photo was posted to Facebook Tuesday and shows a long line of ambulances outside St. Boniface hospital. Both photos were posted on Facebook and shared thousands of times, with comments like “Tell me….how does shutting down Emergency Room Services make this a better scenario???”

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READ MORE: ER closures at Seven Oaks & Concordia will be staggered: report

Brandon Machiskinic was waiting in the emergency room at the St. Boniface hospital on Tuesday. He said he had to wait more than 5 hours to get blood work done and was shocked to see the line up of at least seven ambulances.

“There was literally no room they were so backed up they were almost on the streets, parking on the streets the ambulances,” he said.

In a statement the WRHA said ERs are dealing with busier volumes because of the flu, but said at no time where there more than seven ambulances at any site at any one time Tuesday.

“One of the strategies we use to create capacity in Emergency Departments and inpatient areas is to open additional beds, expedite patient discharges who can safely be discharged from hospital, or move those who may need a different level of care. Those moves can require ambulance transport at times to ensure the transfer is completed safely. That can contribute to the number of ambulances at any one site at one time,” the statement read.

But a nurse who spoke to Global News said staff are exhausted after the Victoria Hospital emergency room closed.

“With more closures will just come more critical patients coming into our facility and we are already bursting at the seams,” the nurse said.

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“This is only the beginning and we are already completely exhausted.”

The nurse didn’t want their identity revealed because they were afraid it would mean losing their job, but they wanted people to know they’re concerned.

“It’s to a point where physically we are getting to be incapable of providing the amount of care, the type of care that we need to do to feel good about our jobs,” the nurse said.

“It’s hard for a nurse because we feel like it’s our fault but we are doing our best.”

The nurses union said changes to Winnipeg’s emergency room system, including the conversion of the ER at Victoria Hospital to an urgent care centre, are having a huge impact.

READ MORE: ER at Winnipeg’s Victoria Hospital officially converted to Urgent Care

“We’ve been hearing since November that the ambulances going to emergency are in some cases double what they used to get, ” Manitoba Nurses Union President Sandi Mowat said.

“We believe it’s attributed to the closures and consolidations that happened in October.”

The WRHA said paramedics may stay on site up to 45 minutes as a result, but “that time would not qualify as excess offload time.”

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In response to high demand the WRHA said two additional trucks were on the road Tuesday.

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