Manitoba COVID-19 patient dies after attempted transport to Ontario ICU

Click to play video: 'More ICU patients being moved out of province' More ICU patients being moved out of province
Manitoba has gone from a grim outlook to a dire one as a total of 23 critically ill COVID-19 patients have now been moved to hospitals in Ontario. Brittany Greenslade reports. – May 25, 2021

A Manitoban with COVID-19 has died after attempting to send them out of province for care at an Ontario intensive care unit.

“A medically stable but critically ill patient who was identified for transport to an Ontario hospital did destabilize prior to takeoff earlier this week,” a spokesperson for Shared Health said via email statement.

Read more: More Manitobans with COVID-19 transferred to Ontario, 353 new cases Monday

The spokesperson told Global News the patient “began to deteriorate as they were being boarded onto the plane.” The patient was provided care by the transport team and immediately sent back to the hospital but they died the next day, the province said.

“Our condolences go out to the patient’s family and loved ones on their loss. We also want to send along our thoughts to the care teams who worked tirelessly to treat this patient, as they have for so many others during this pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba ICUs on brink of collapse' Manitoba ICUs on brink of collapse
Manitoba ICUs on brink of collapse – May 21, 2021

Since May 18, there have been 23 ICU patients sent to nine different Ontario hospitals (Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Windsor, St, Elgin, North Bay and Owen Sound) as Manitoba continues to grapple with capacity issues.

As of midnight Wednesday there were 128 patients in Manitoba ICUs including 74 connected to COVID-19, according to provincial data. The province’s ICU numbers don’t include patients who have been transferred out of Manitoba.

Shared Health said there were more patients expected to be transferred to Ontario Wednesday as well. Another patient was expected to arrive in Saskatchewan Wednesday, the first for the bordering province.

Read more: 2 more Manitoba ICU COVID-19 patients transferred to Ontario

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province is in a position to help, having lowered its ICU and hospitalization rates.

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“We’re fortunate at the moment with lower hospitalizations than what we have had, and fortunate to have some provincial capacity to offer our neighbours and fellow Canadians in Manitoba,” Moe said.

Elective and non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled in Manitoba and nurses have been moved from other areas into intensive care. Six physicians, warning that Manitoba’s health care is on the brink, this week called for a stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan set to receive 1st hospital patient from Manitoba, limit set to 5 for time being' Saskatchewan set to receive 1st hospital patient from Manitoba, limit set to 5 for time being
Saskatchewan set to receive 1st hospital patient from Manitoba, limit set to 5 for time being – May 25, 2021

The Opposition New Democrats said the Progressive Conservative government failed to prepare hospitals for the pandemic and has left patients at risk.

“Would this Manitoban have passed away if they had not been moved?” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“There is a legitimate question to ask as to whether this person would have survived had they been allowed to remain in the intensive care unit bed that they were in.”

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Premier Brian Pallister said the number of intensive care beds, with the recent expansion, is well above what it was under the former NDP government.

Read more: Doctors Manitoba calls on province to develop and implement triage protocols amid ICU strain

He also said an influx of up to 50 critical-care nurses and other workers provided by the federal government will help matters.

“My understanding from health officials was that this will reduce the need for out-of-province transfers to occur,” Pallister said.

The province said all patients selected for transport to an ICU in another jurisdiction are carefully assessed by the critical care team and there are detailed discussions between care teams on either side. However, unforeseen problems can occur.

“Rapid deterioration and death of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care is not uncommon and cannot be predicted, whether in the ICU or during transport,” said the Shared Health spokesperson.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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