Health minister returns after recuperation

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Returning from a medical leave that lasted several weeks, Health Minister Heather Stefanson talked Thursday about her priorities moving forward — and shared a bit of first-hand experience with the health-care system she oversees.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/07/2021 (518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Returning from a medical leave that lasted several weeks, Health Minister Heather Stefanson talked Thursday about her priorities moving forward — and shared a bit of first-hand experience with the health-care system she oversees.

“Wonderful people work in the system,” she said at her first media appearance since the Manitoba legislature press gallery was informed about her medical leave May 21.

“This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to be out since I’ve been back… So I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the doctors, the nurses, the health-care aides — all those on the hospital staff who helped me during my surgery,” she said at a brief news conference to announce provincial plans to train more nurses.

Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson said she has been working virtually for the last couple of weeks following a recent medical leave for surgery. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Stefanson said her surgery took place at Health Sciences Centre. She provided no further details, but talked about the care she received at HSC.

“The staff was absolutely phenomenal. Just great health care here in Manitoba,” said Stefanson, who thanked deputy premier Kelvin Goertzen, a former health minister, for filling in for her while she was on leave.

Stefanson was sworn in as health and seniors care minister Jan. 5, when Premier Brian Pallister overhauled the front bench of his cabinet.

One day after she held a May 20 news conference to announce long weekend COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and urge Manitobans to stay at home, media were told Stefanson was undergoing a necessary medical procedure and would be absent from the legislature for the remainder of the spring sitting (which ended June 1).

Stefanson said she has been working virtually for the last couple of weeks, and is focusing on three main priorities: “No. 1, obviously, is dealing with COVID and making sure of the safety of Manitobans and getting as many Manitobans vaccinated as we possibly can.”

At the same time, she said, the department is focusing on better care for seniors and addressing the backlog of surgeries and procedures resulting from the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations (but offhand didn’t know how many there had been).

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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