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Tories promise longer hours at health centres

Specialized unit would combat stroke

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A Conservative government would spend $20 million to extend the hours of city ACCESS health centres as a way to tackle overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms, party leader Hugh McFadyen said Friday.

The Tories also vowed to form a specialized unit to combat stroke, the third-leading cause of death in Manitoba.

McFadyen made his fourth campaign promise on health this week at the headquarters of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, with the organization's president and CEO at his side, and surrounded by 50 paramedics dressed in dark blue "Paramedics for Change" T-shirts.

The Conservative leader said a government he leads would improve on the NDP ACCESS Centres, which offer a blend of health and social services, by keeping them open until 10 p.m. The government broke ground on the seventh such centre in June.

McFadyen also promised to add five more ambulances to the Winnipeg fleet and fund 60 more paramedics to operate them. He vowed not to off-load the costs of these promises onto the city. As well, he vowed to equip all of the province's ambulances with power-lift stretchers.

"Paramedics like those who have formed Paramedics for Change are trained professionals whose voices need to be heard," McFadyen said. "They have great ideas about how we can enhance emergency services in Manitoba, and Manitoba Progressive Conservatives have listened."

McFadyen said the Conservatives would also provide paramedics with the ability to refer patients to community care centres, the Pan Am Clinic and other such clinics. He would also expand training for paramedics and allow them to be self-regulated through the creation of a College of Paramedics of Manitoba.

Meanwhile, McFadyen said a specialized stroke unit could reduce the chance of disability and death due to stroke by as much as 30 per cent. Such units already exist in four other provinces.

Brown said she was not endorsing McFadyen by appearing with him at his news conference Friday. She said she hoped that all the political parties adopted the idea of creating a stroke unit as part of their election platforms.

The Tories said the unit would cost $8 million to establish and $3 million a year to operate.

They say it would provide improved care to families and benefit the health system by lowering the chances of disability and aiding the recovery of patients.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

Liberals eye care homes

 

MANITOBA Liberals would legislate standards of care in personal-care homes and hire inspectors who would arrive unannounced to make sure the new provisions were met.

In a speech to the Laurier Club on Friday, party leader Jon Gerrard also pledged to stop the practice of prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to seniors in care homes as a form of restraint. He said overuse of such drugs can lead to strokes and death.

Gerrard accused the NDP government of covering up problems in personal-care homes. Several people have come forward in recent years accusing homes of mistreating and neglecting their elderly clients.

"We're going to make sure that we have a system of care which delivers the care that people deserve," Gerrard said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 17, 2011 A6

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