St. Boniface Hospital staff ‘frustrated by lack of capacity,’ says ER doctor

Click to play video 'Winnipeg doctor speaks out after ‘lack of capacity’ in emergency rooms' Winnipeg doctor speaks out after ‘lack of capacity’ in emergency rooms
WATCH: A Winnipeg ER doctor of 32 years is speaking out after St. Boniface hospital sent out a memo redirecting some patients to different ER's citing 'unsafe' patient levels. Global's Marek Tkach reports.

Staff at one of Winnipeg’s hospital emergency rooms are frustrated and concerned over the lack of capacity to be able to admit patients quickly, says an emergency room doctor.

“I was frustrated and irritated and felt that I needed to speak out,” said Dr. Paul Doucet.

Doucet currently works as a physician at St. Boniface Hospital’s emergency room, but has been practicing medicine for more than 32 years.

READ MORE: Winnipeg hospital stopped admitting patients after ‘critical and unsafe levels’ reached

Last week, it was Doucet who flagged “unsafe and critical levels” of patients entering the hospital’s emergency department, which led to a 24-hour redirection of patients to other hospitals.

That prompted St. Boniface to send out a memo, leaked to Global News, redirecting some patients.

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“I don’t feel that memo was productive other than it shined a light on the problem, led to that press conference and led to me speaking out which I hope may lead to some change,” Doucet said Monday.

A memo obtained by Global News about the 24 hour redirection at St. Boniface hospital.
A memo obtained by Global News about the 24 hour redirection at St. Boniface hospital.

After the memo leaked, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and St. Boniface Hospital officials tried to put concerns at ease, and downplayed the stituation, saying patient care was never jeopardized.

“I’m saying that we are providing safe care. I’m also saying there was a surge of patients . When we do have over a hundred patients that’s a surge in patients,” said Martine Bouchard, CEO of St. Boniface General Hospital at a press conference held last Thursday.

“I am concerned, but we are addressing the situation from an internal prospective,” she told Global News Monday.

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READ MORE: Low morale, fear of layoffs for Seven Oaks hospital staff, say unions

“That data has now been analyzed, and no unusual surges of patient arrivals have been identified,” said a WRHA spokesperson in an email sent to Global News on Monday morning.

In the email, the health authority said patient volumes and acuity were not outside the range of what could typically be safely managed by established protocols.

However, Doucet said those working in the ER are concerned.

“When I speak to [staff], everybody is frustrated with the lack of capacity to timely admit their patients,” he said.

The only way Doucet sees the problem improving is more beds being added across the system to get people out of the ER faster.

READ MORE: Winnipeg emergency room wait times will keep climbing, says WRHA

“It’s not a new problem, it feels like things will be getting worse and continuing to to get worse unless the WRHA and the hospital administration are given tools to adequately deal with situation.”

“When you get a bunch of people coming in at a certain time, and you’ve got a demand in a very fixated period of time, i’m not even sure what hours it was, that causes a surge and then people react,” says Real Cloutier, the President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority at the same press conference on Thursday.