Friends and family are mourning the loss of a young mother of two who had COVID-19 and died after a failed attempt to airlift her to a hospital in Ontario.
Krystal Mousseau, 31, died Monday in Brandon, following an attempted medical transfer to an intensive care unit in Ontario due to a shortage of beds in Manitoba.
“My sincerest, heartfelt condolences go out to Krystal’s family on the heartbreaking loss of our relation,” Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in an email statement.
“We must do all we can to care for them during this incredibly difficult time.”
The province has not released any specifics surrounding Mousseau’s death.
On Wednesday Shared Health said a critically ill patient destabilized while being loaded onto a plane for transfer to an Ontario Hospital.
“The patient was provided with care by the critical care transport team and immediately returned to the sending facility. We can confirm the patient passed away the following day,” said a spokesperson.
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.
Dr. Rob Grierson, chief medical officer of Shared Health’s Emergency Response Services, is the person who makes the final call about who is transported out of province.
“We don’t take this step lightly,” he said. “When we’re trying to move people, we try to find patients where maybe just one body system has been affected and so we’re trying to find patients that have, as I said before, are as stable as you can get in an intensive care unit.”
Grierson said patients are all carefully assessed by the critical care team and added that detailed discussions happen between the teams sending and receiving the patient.
“When you’re managing critical care patients, every step you take has to be carefully calculated,” he said. There are risks associated with every step of the way.”
Grierson added that rapid deterioration of ICU patients and COVID-19 is not uncommon and cannot be predicted, regardless of if they are in the ICU or being transported.
“They can change really reasonably dramatically and so we’re we’re kind of in a situation where we’ve got a disease that we’re learning about and it is a bit unpredictable,” he said. “So that adds a little risk to the circumstance.”
Mousseau, who had been living in Brandon, is a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation. The community has organized a fundraiser to help Mousseau’s two children.
Indigenous people have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and health officials have said they routinely have faced more severe outcomes after contracting the virus.
Dr. Marcia Anderson, head of Manitoba’s First Nations pandemic response team, previously said First Nations people have made up to 40 to 60 per cent of all patients admitted to intensive care units during the second and third waves.
First Nations people make up only about 10 per cent of the population of the province.
“Of these First Nations people, currently two-thirds of them live outside of First Nations communities, and mostly in urban environments. That’s why it’s so important to get our communities both on and off reserve fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” Anderson said.
SCO said the young mom’s death is a tragic example of how hard the pandemic has hit First Nations people.
“Not only was Krystal dealing with decades of colonial-based health care inequities faced by First Nation people, but she was also being treated in Manitoba’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) system which is facing an unprecedented crisis. I pray that no more lives are lost because of the dire situation Manitoba now finds itself in,” Daniels said.