Hallie is a one-year-old girl from Steinbach whose health is being threatened by COVID-19 in a very unusual way.

“Even though Hallie has not actually contracted the coronavirus, it has managed to make her health so much worse,” explains the girl’s mother Cari Thiessen. “She doesn’t have access to all of her usual health-care because the province has shut everything down.”

Though circumstances are improving across Manitoba as the government slowly introduces Phase Two of their COVID-19 recovery plan, Thiessen says she and her husband, Jon, are still fighting through jungles of red tape in order to keep their child from constant unbearable pain.

Hallie has what is called Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease. The ailment causes her intestines to inflame whenever her body digests food of any kind. To curb the extreme discomfort associated with the disease, the young girl has lived her life without the pleasure of food. Instead, she is fed liquid formula by a tube inserted through her nostril.

Thiessen says she and her husband have never given up hope in their daughter’s healing, but the pandemic has shrouded that hope in discouragement and complication.

When COVID-19 prompted a provincial shutdown late March, the Thiessens were less than a week away from a critical procedure that may have given them some insight into Hallie’s condition.

“But the week she was scheduled to go in was the week the government cancelled all elective surgeries,” states Thiessen.“While Hallie desperately needed this scope to find out what was wrong and come up with the next treatment plan, it was still considered elective and so it was suspended.”

From that point on, she notes, Hallie’s health went steeply downhill. “It just got worse and worse and worse.”

Special medical call centres that the family had come to rely on throughout their child’s life began sending their staff to work from home. Ordinarily, the hot-lines acted as a swift liaison between Hallie and the relevant practitioners, but this move left the Thiessens playing dubious games of phone tag any time their child's conditions flared up. “It takes days for anything to happen,” Thiessen comments.