Winnipeg children’s hospital emergency department above capacity, needs more space

The Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg is seeking to upgrade after facing higher than capacity emergency department visits day-in and day-out. Mike Albanese has more.

By Mike Albanese

The children’s hospital in Winnipeg says it desperately needs a major upgrade for more space, as it gets more patients than it was built for.

The Health Sciences Centre Children’s Hospital is seeing a steady surplus of visits as the respiratory season worsens.

Dr. Elisabete Doyle says upgrades are of paramount importance.

“We need some critical care infrastructure, right now – increased number of monitoring beds, increased resuscitation capacity,” said Doyle, the section head and medical director of pediatric emergency.

Doyle says in the last few weeks there has been an increase in sick kids, notably young infants under the age of three months.

“These are the babies being admitted to critical care so their first point of entry is children’s emergency,” said Doyle. “That’s where we stabilize them before they get to an ICU bed. So that’s driving the numbers right now.”

A few weeks ago the hospital dealt with 200+ emergency department patients a day. Now at it’s at 140, which is still well over what the hospital was built for.

“It was originally designed for 100 patients a day, so 36,000 per year,” said Doyle. “And we’re well over 50,000 per year now. That’s even before the respiratory season. Our numbers are climbing.”

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit has around 20 beds occupied – the baseline is half of that. The neonatal intensive care unit is just over its capacity of 50 beds.


The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba says space at HSC Children’s emergency department is limited and no longer sufficient to address the volume of patients. They’re aiming to raise $8.5 million for upgrades.

“We’re dedicating all the dollars raised to the emergency department, improving it, equipment, chairs, exam chairs,” said Stefano Grande, the foundation’s president and CEO. “When you have double the capacity, you need double supplies and more support.”

“We have a responsibility to make patient and family lives on their worst day better,” added Doyle. “In a nutshell that’s what we need to do. We can only do that when we have the right spaces to look after the children.”

All donations made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation before Dec. 31 will be matched up to $100,000. Donations can be made here.

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