WRHA head praises health-care system

CEO says he received ‘really excellent care’, but critics call him out of touch


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The head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is boasting about the province’s health-care system after he was required to travel to Brandon for eye surgery.

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The head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is boasting about the province’s health-care system after he was required to travel to Brandon for eye surgery.

Mike Nader, chief executive officer and president of the WRHA, recently received a corneal transplant in the Manitoba city, a two-hour drive west of the health authority he oversees, an email obtained by the Free Press shows.

“I received really excellent care,” Nader said in the email to WRHA staff last week. “To me it is a great example of how our entire health system can work together to meet our needs, rather than operating just as individual regions.”

Nader didn’t address why he wasn’t treated at Misericordia Health Centre, home to one of the largest eye care centres in Western Canada.

“You might be wondering why I received these services in (Brandon) rather than the Winnipeg health region, but my family doctor referred me to a specialist there, and I never questioned it,” Nader wrote.

Manitoba’s health-care system is facing critical issues including staff shortages, lengthy wait times in ERs and surgical backlogs. For months, doctors, nurses and patients have warned the provincial government that the system is on the verge of collapse.

NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said Nader’s experience vastly differs from that of the average Manitoban who struggles to pay their gas and grocery bills.

“Being able to find the money and the time and the support to drive to different regions to get health care is not feasible,” Asagwara said. “Manitobans should not have to expect highway medicine as the way they access essential health care.”

Asagwara noted most Manitobans don’t have the same access to resources as the head of the WRHA. A commute for treatment also means a larger gap from familial support networks, they added.

“If we’ve got CEOs who are talking about how they’re forced to get health care outside of their communities, what does that mean for the rest of Manitoba?” they said. “We need to invest in strengthening our public health-care system at home.”

A provincial government spokesperson confirmed Sunday that costs related to travel within Manitoba, including a hotel stay, are not covered by the province. The spokesperson said no other information would be provided.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said he was “stunned” that Nader was sent outside of the city for surgery.

“The fact that (Nader) couldn’t get the surgery they needed in the regional health authority they’re responsible for is an indictment of our health-care system,” Lamont said.

He called Nader’s email to WRHA staff “out of touch.”

“You have someone thinking the system is fine because it worked for them,” Lamont said. “(This) just confirms that… the health-care system is in crisis.”

Nader also praised the skilled and diverse medical team that treated him.

“I had a wonderful care team that showed the true diversity of our health workforce: my surgeon was from Mexico, the surgical resident was from Egypt, the anesthesiologist was from Scotland, and the care aide was from Southeast Asia and had recently upskilled from being a housekeeper,” Nader said.

“I also had a nurse who had 40 years of service and had returned from retirement part-time because she liked the team and the schedule met her needs.”


Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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