‘Rage tears’: family of ill Winnipeg doctor expresses frustration with minister, province

A doctor making their rounds. File / Pixabay

A Winnipeg woman is expressing her frustration with the province after her husband — a doctor on the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic — fell ill with the virus.

Susan Krepart told 680 CJOB her husband, Dr. Owen Mooney, has been confined to the basement of his home after testing positive on Monday.

“He just rapidly started to decline. General malaise, his muscles were aching, his nose started running — which isn’t necessarily a symptom — his chest started tightening,” she said.

“He got his results that night and he hasn’t been out of the basement since.”

Mooney was one of hundreds of Manitoba doctors who put their names to a letter urging the provincial government for more equipment and resources.

Read more: ‘A grave situation’: Winnipeg doctors urge province to move to full lockdown

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In a controversial statement earlier this week, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen suggested the doctors may have had an ulterior, political motive for the timing of the request — and Krepart said she agrees with those who have called the minister’s comments outrageous and inappropriate.

“It wasn’t a decision that he or anybody who signed that letter took lightly. Doctors historically aren’t the ones who come up and stand up and speak out about something like this,” she said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Health minister’s comments ‘outrageous,’ says Winnipeg doctors

“To imply they had an ulterior motive — rage-tears are coming to my eyes right now. What did they have to gain? What do you think is their ulterior motive, other than patient care?

“They’re watching their colleagues drop like flies. They’re seeing patient care diminish. It was not a decision he took lightly and there’s probably gonna be ramifications. It’s just ridiculous.”

Krepart said her husband and the other doctors aren’t running for office — they’re just asking for more protective equipment and trained colleagues to help in a very difficult situation.

Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen speaks during a COVID-19 press conference earlier in 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

Thus far, Friesen has refused to apologize for his comments, despite public pressure.

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On Wednesday NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara called on Friesen to apologize and said the minister was “gaslighting” health-care workers.

“This minister is failing. He’s failing Manitobans, he’s failing our medical professionals who need his support,” Asagwara said at the Manitoba Legislature.

“Why won’t the minister apologize for the harm he has caused our health-care professionals?”

Read more: No curfew, but more money coming for fire inspectors, officers to enforce COVID-19 rules: Manitoba Premier

Friesen, who has also declined interview requests from Global News and 680 CJOB, said Wednesday in the chamber that he stands by his words, and that what Manitobans need now are “reassurances.”

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Krepart said she doesn’t expect an apology, and although it would be nice, she’d rather see the province take action on some of the recommendations in the doctors’ letters.

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For now, she’s focused on her husband getting better so he can get back to caring for COVID-19 patients.

“It’s humbled him, that’s for sure. What I love about Owen is he’s already thinking about how he can turn this into better care for his patients because now he can be more empathetic to his patients.

“He’s shocked. It’s a life-force sucker… for him to sit upright is a chore right now, because it’s so exhausting.

“You can see how this would be devastating for someone immuno-compromised, or older people… this thing is no joke, and he’s healthy. It’s not the flu.”

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