January 19, 2022
About 300 Manitobans awaiting spinal surgery will be sent to Sanford Medical Centre in Fargo ND for their operations.
The move is an effort to deal with the province’s backlog of more than 153,000 surgical and diagnostic procedures, blamed on COVID-19 health care demands.
Patients who have been on the spinal surgery waiting list for more than a year will be given priority. Some may be headed south of the border by the end of January.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon and members of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force are expected to provide an update at a 2 p.m. CST news conference.
The province may also be contemplating sending joint-surgery patients to Sanford.
“We acknowledge the suffering. We acknowledge the waits,” said Dr. Ed Buchel, the provincial surgery lead for Manitoba Shared Health told CBC.
Sending patients elsewhere in Canada isn’t an option because every provincial health care system is overwhelmed with demands from the Omicron variant, he said.
Health staff have been diverted from operating rooms to care for COVID-19 patients while surgery backlogs escalated.
Patients suffering broken backs, unstable spines or cancer are deemed too risky for surgery in the U.S.
Preference will be given to those with serious conditions needing urgent attention, yet are able to travel by vehicle to Sanford, 360 km from Winnipeg.
Doctors Manitoba hopes this is a short-term measure.