Press Releases

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Flu continues to impact city health facilities

Elective surgeries to be postponed at WRHA facilities this week; emergency, cancer and day surgeries to continue as planned

WINNIPEG – As demand on inpatient and critical care beds related to influenza remains high at Winnipeg hospitals, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) today confirmed that elective and non-emergency surgeries scheduled for this week will be postponed across the region.

“We are dealing with a particularly tough flu season which has resulted in very busy emergency departments and a resulting increase in demand for in-patient beds,” said Dr. Bruce Roe, Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer at the WRHA. “Similar to the 2013 flu season, when non-emergency surgeries were postponed, we are increasing the number of temporary beds in our hospitals and are taking preventive steps to reduce the impact of flu.”

Emergency and cancer surgeries across the region are not impacted by the scheduling changes and will continue as planned, Roe confirmed. Day surgeries, which do not place as heavy a demand on in-patient beds, will also continue. It is estimated that approximately 80 surgeries will be affected.

The WRHA has responded to the high demands of this year’s flu season by increasing the number of temporary beds available in hospitals. Approximately 70 beds have been opened thus far to accommodate the increased demand. Another 68 beds typically used for surgical patients are now accommodating patients requiring admission.

The region has also been maximizing the number patients appropriate for transfer to long term care facilities and is utilizing the full scope of home care resources. 

  “This decision is being made to ensure that we are able to provide safe and timely care to patients in immediate need of assistance during this very busy flu season,” said Dr. Roe “We recognize and regret the impact on patients awaiting elective and non-emergency surgery, are monitoring the situation daily and will reschedule these surgeries at the earliest opportunity.”

Influenza activity in the community continues to increase. The severity of the strain this year seems to be causing more severe symptoms resulting in more hospitalizations.

Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is encourage to stay home, rest and get lots of fluids as well as to avoid visiting family who may be more susceptible to the flu. This may include young children, the elderly or those who may have underlying health conditions.

Ongoing preventive measures to reduce the impact of flu in WRHA facilities include: posting signage across units, ongoing vaccination of staff, encouraging the use of masks in patient care areas, bringing patients with similar symptoms together to reduce the spread among non-affected patients and regular screening of all patients on units to monitor any additional spread of the virus. 

All Winnipeggers are reminded to be mindful of any flu-like symptoms they may have and be considerate the health of friends and family.

For more information about flu please speak with your doctor or public health nurse or call Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257).

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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