Seven Oaks down 90 acute care beds as ER closes

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There are 128 fewer acute care beds in Winnipeg now than when the province began overhauling the health care system, a freedom of information request shows.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/07/2019 (1292 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There are 128 fewer acute care beds in Winnipeg now than when the province began overhauling the health care system, a freedom of information request shows.

Seven Oaks Hospital alone is down 90 beds compared with the summer of 2017.

GETTING INTO BEDS

The Manitoba NDP released data showing the number of acute care beds in Winnipeg hospitals is down six per cent since the province began overhauling the emergency room system. But the province says other types of beds are opening.

The Manitoba NDP released data showing the number of acute care beds in Winnipeg hospitals is down six per cent since the province began overhauling the emergency room system. But the province says other types of beds are opening.

Short-stay surgery: the province said more day surgeries and short-stay surgeries are being done, and that the number of short-stay surgery beds is up from 12 to 34.

42 new beds: The province said it plans to open 42 new beds across the city in response to the St. Boniface Hospital over-capacity incident. They will stay open for at least the next 12 months, the WRHA said.

Transitional care: 110 new beds at Misericordia Hospital “for patients needing temporary transitional care outside of a traditional hospital setting.”

Down 74 acute care beds overall: In September, one the reorganization of Seven Oaks is complete, the province expects to be down 74 acute care beds compared to 2017 — meaning 54 more beds will be open compared to today.

Source: NDP freedom of information request, Manitoba Health spokesperson

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS NDP Leader Wab Kinew, appearing at a rally at Seven Oaks Hospital Sunday, pledges to reopen the emergency room at Seven Oaks if the NDP is elected to government.

“When we see less beds, that means that there are less spaces for nurses, doctors, health care professionals to care for sick people in need. So if we ever want to get a handle on wait times, we are going to need to add spaces,” said Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

He released the data as northwest Winnipeg residents rallied to keep the Seven Oaks emergency room open on Sunday. It is scheduled to open this morning as an urgent care centre.

 

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“When we’re losing beds in the health-care system, it means that everybody across Winnipeg is worse off too,” Kinew said. He cited the day in June when St. Boniface Hospital had to turn away patients who didn’t have immediate health needs.

“So while there is a particular pain that is being borne by the people in northwest Winnipeg who will now have to drive farther away from home to get health care, everyone in Winnipeg should be concerned.”

Approximately two-thirds of all patients who currently seek emergency care at Seven Oaks can receive proper treatment from an urgent care centre, a provincial spokesperson said in an email Sunday.

Victoria General Hospital was the first of three emergency rooms to reopen as an urgent care centre and has seen wait times drop by 30 per cent amid a 59 per cent increase in walk-in patients, the spokesperson said.

“We know change can be difficult for some to accept and we thank front-line staff for their dedication to their patients and to the health-care system,” said Health Minister Cameron Friesen in a statement.

“The changes we are making have been successful in improving patient care and outcomes — not just in jurisdictions like Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa, but in Winnipeg as well.”

Seven Oaks is the last of three ERs in the city to close, leaving three ERs open. The change to urgent care was originally scheduled for September but was moved up. Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson previously told the Free Press the nursing vacancy rate was as high as 30 per cent at the beginning of the year.

Where to go

Go to urgent care for:

  • Fevers
  • flu symptoms
  • rashes or infections
  • dehydration
  • cuts that won’t stop bleeding
  • breaks and sprains

Call 911 or go to the ER for:

  • Strokes/sudden weakness
  • heart attacks
  • loss of limb
  • seizures
  • severe difficulty breathing or trouble speaking
  • uncontrolled or severe bleeding

Source: WRHA

A couple dozen people came out Sunday in a last-ditch effort to keep the ER open, holding signs that said “Stop the cuts.”

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Pam Semchych and her granddaughter Elize, 7, hold signs as Wab Kinew talks to media to oppose the transition of Seven Oaks Emergency to an Urgent Care Centre.

“The morale really dropped, people were worried about the patients,” said Roseanne Johnson, who retired as a unit clerk at Seven Oaks in February after nearly 30 years there.

“You can’t provide safe care… The staff cuts are just ridiculous, it’s awful.”

“The services here have been gutted, step by step by step,” said Pam Semchych, a nurse who’s also been a patient at Seven Oaks. “They’re always short of ICU beds in the city, and now there’s going to be fewer.”

Kinew pledged to reopen the emergency room at Seven Oaks if the NDP is elected to government in September.

He said the NDP’s platform will detail how much the NDP expects reversing ER closures to cost.

“That will be the quickest way that we can add more beds to our health-care system,” Kinew said.

tvanderhart@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @tessavanderhart

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