Melita ER to reopen after summer closure


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Melita’s ER is on track to reopen next week after additional delays rooted in staff shortages.

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Melita’s ER is on track to reopen next week after additional delays rooted in staff shortages.

The Melita Health Centre in the southwestern corner of the province next to the Saskatchewan border shut down for the summer due to lack of staff. It was supposed to reopen after the Labour Day long weekend, but some residents grew concerned when that didn’t happen.

The hospital is set to start admitting patients again later this week, while the emergency department is expected to reopen the week of Sept. 19, Mayor Bill Holden said Monday. It will initially open for 12 hours a day, with EMS staff set to fill in. A local focus group of councillors, citizens and health representatives has been meeting over the past couple of weeks to try to find a solution, Holden said, explaining the health centre couldn’t open sooner because staffing is still a major problem. Only now, they’re trying to convince staff to come back after a two-month summer shutdown.

“We want to try and open this facility and bring it back to what we had before. We’re still having trouble getting physicians to relocate and actually stay in these smaller communities — we’re not the only one,” Holden said.

The mayor said the health centre is expected to operate like an urgent care centre when it reopens, but the main feedback he’s getting is that the local health system needs to be consistent.

“Whatever the format is, we want something that’s stable, that’s seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, nothing changes.”

The town has a liaison working with the Prairie Mountain health region, and they are working together, Holden said.

“It’s not only for us. That’s kind of the goal: let’s come up with something that works for rural Manitoba, for all the hospitals in rural Manitoba that are struggling the same as we are.”

Other communities are still dealing with a lot of uncertainty after planned summer shutdowns or reduced hours of service at their health centres.

In Treherne, 200 kilometres east of Melita, Prairie Mountain Health informed the rural municipality last month the reopening of Tiger Hills hospital was delayed and they were hoping it would reopen before the end of September. There is no firm date.

Treherne Reeve Will Eert said his and other rural municipalities are trying to come up with new incentives to attract nurses, including collaborating over jurisdictional lines to transfer nurses between the Prairie Mountain and Southern health regions.

“It can be easy or hard, but it’s something that needs to be done,” Eert said. “And I’m sure it happens in other jurisdictions as well where these jurisdictional things are shutting our hospitals down.”

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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