Healthcare professionals burnt-out as long patient wait times continue to hit hospitals

An emergency medicine physician in Manitoba is sounding the alarm over long patient wait times and a healthcare system that is overwhelmed and in need of help. Mark Neufeld reports.

By Mark Neufeld

Hospitals in Manitoba are overwhelmed, and healthcare professionals are burnt out, according to one doctor in Manitoba who’s sounding the alarm over long wait times in emergency departments that he says are leaving physicians in moral distress while patients continue to suffer.

St Boniface hospital Emergency medicine physician DR. Kristjan Thompson says he has seen many nurses leave the ER in the last few months due to unreasonable working conditions.

Adding for the first time in his career on Sunday, he felt like quitting his job as the ER remained packed with admitted patients waiting long hours for care.

“There is a patient right now at St Boniface emerge that has been waiting over 158 hours, that’s over six days heading onto a full week, waiting for an inpatient bed,” explained Dr. Thompson.

“All the doctors and nurses in our healthcare system are frustrated, beyond measure.”

Dr. Thompson says as of Tuesday afternoon, 11 patients have been waiting over two days for inpatient beds to become available with another five waiting over four days.

This weekend a man waited 18 hours with a bowel obstruction to see Dr. Thompson while another person with chest pains waited 10 hours to be diagnosed with a heart attack.

“This is not a new problem, it existed for decades, but it is getting worse. We see it not just in Manitoba but all across Canada. This is a Canadian problem.”


In Quebec, Dr. Sebastien Marin took to Twitter on Saturday to share details about a patient who died after spending 16 hours in a Quebec Hospital’s emergency room without being seen by a doctor.

Meanwhile, the public health agency of Canada is warning respiratory syncytial virus infections are rising in much of the country.

In an effort to address Manitoba’s nursing shortage, the province is investing around $12.5 million dollars for a multi-purpose facility at Red River College Polytechnic to support 115 new nursing training seats with hopes of strengthening Manitoba’s healthcare system

“Every jurisdiction across our country is dealing with workforce shortages and surgical and diagnostic backlogs. All Canadians deserve to access these tests, procedures, and other health care services they need, when they need them,” said Premier Heather Stephanson.

As for Thompson, he says he knows people will be scared hearing about the long wait times in hospitals however he urges anyone in medical distress to still come to a hospital or dial 911 for assistance.

“We are not giving up on you, we are here for you, and we will do everything that we can to ensure that you get the care that you need.”

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