December 6, 2019

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Concordia ER now slated to be urgent care centre as Tories change gears

Concordia Hospital is still on track to lose its emergency room by the end of June, but the Pallister government is attempting to soften the blow for residents of northeast Winnipeg.

On Thursday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced Concordia's ER will be transformed into an urgent care centre in the next four to six weeks.

The move represents a shift for the Progressive Conservatives, who, until recently, had maintained their city hospital reorganization plan was sound and proceeding on schedule.

However, two weeks ago, Friesen announced the government had brought in health consultant Dr. David Peachey to review the second phase of the plan. Over the weekend, the consultant, whose report to the province two years ago had served as the blueprint for change, delivered his recommendations to the minister, which were accepted by the government.

Peachey recommended an urgent care centre for Concordia, rather than the proposed walk-in clinic, in the wake of the loss of the institution's emergency room.

The plan to transform the ER at Seven Oaks General Hospital to an urgent care centre in September will remain in place.

In his original report to government, Peachey had recommended the city have three ERs and three urgent care centres; the government is now following that advice. (Victoria General Hospital's ER was converted to an urgent care centre last fall.)

However, the expert recommended a six-month pause on all other proposed changes, including the reallocation of beds at various sites and changes in cardiac care and intravenous care.

 

Winnipeg’s ER changes

Concordia

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

( JUNE 2019)

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

(SEPTEMBER 2019)

Victoria

CONVERT TO

URGENT CARE

HSC

REMAINS OPEN

St. Boniface

REMAINS OPEN

Grace

REMAINS OPEN

Misericordia

CLOSED

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press Source: WRHA

Winnipeg’s ER changes

Concordia

Victoria

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

( JUNE 2019)

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

(SEPTEMBER 2019)

CONVERT TO

URGENT CARE

HSC

St. Boniface

Grace

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

Misericordia

CLOSED

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press; Source:  WRHA 

Winnipeg’s ER changes

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE (SEPTEMBER 2019)

Concordia

HSC

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE (JUNE 2019)

REMAINS OPEN

St. Boniface

Grace

Misericordia

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

CLOSED

Concordia Hospital’s ER was slated for a full closure in June and was to be converted into a walk-in clinic. It will instead be a urgent care centre after pushback from the community.

Victoria

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press; Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

 

"I would emphasize there is no road map when it comes to fundamental health-care system change," Friesen told a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building. "Transformation of the health-care system is complex. There are bound to be challenges along the way."

The health minister also admitted the revised plan for Concordia and the pause placed on other planned changes came about, at least in part, due to "gaps" the health system has discovered in its data collection and analysis. Responsibility for that work will now shift from individual hospitals and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to the new provincial health authority, Shared Health.

Timeline

April 2017 — The Manitoba government announces the first wave of sweeping changes to the health-care system, which includes closing Concordia Hospital's ER. The Winnipeg hospital will continue offering orthopedic care and geriatric rehabilitation services, plus acting as a transitional point for patients waiting to get into personal care homes.

April 2017 — The Manitoba government announces the first wave of sweeping changes to the health-care system, which includes closing Concordia Hospital's ER. The Winnipeg hospital will continue offering orthopedic care and geriatric rehabilitation services, plus acting as a transitional point for patients waiting to get into personal care homes.

June 2018 — The province says it will replace Concordia's ER with a walk-in clinic in 2019, to be open 365 days a year, 12 hours a day. Then-health minister Kelvin Goertzen notes the government listened to area residents who wanted to see a continued walk-in service at the hospital.

May 2019 — After asking consultant Dr. David Peachey to review the pace of changes to the health-care system thus far, the government changes tack again on Concordia. At Peachey's urging, the province will convert the hospital's ER into an urgent care centre within four to six weeks.

"There were gaps in the way that information was being shared. There were gaps in the way that medical providers and front-line workers were not being able to get their concerns across," Friesen said.

Opposition leaders quickly denounced the government's announcement, while the Manitoba Nurses Union called the prescription for Concordia a "half-measure."

NDP Leader Wab Kinew strode into the media briefing room seconds after Friesen departed to blast the government's amended blueprint.

Wab Kinew, Leader of the MB NDP and Leader of the Opposition

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Wab Kinew, Leader of the MB NDP and Leader of the Opposition

"Well, from the same team that brought you a failing health-care plan for Manitoba, here comes Take 2," he said. "The government’s going to try again, but it’s clear that the plan that they brought forward last time was a disaster."

Kinew noted many Concordia employees have already left their jobs for other opportunities, due to the hospital's pending ER closure.

"And now they’re supposed to do a 180 (degrees) with four to six weeks before the ER closes at Concordia? Ask yourself: why is this happening? Is it happening because this is what’s in the best interests of patients who need care in Manitoba? Or is this just happening because (Premier Brian) Pallister is worried about how he’s going to do in the next election?"

What's the difference?

Emergency: Patients should call 911 and/or visit an emergency room (open 24-7) if they (or someone they know) are having a stroke, experiencing facial weakness or extremity weakness; having a heart attack or chest pain; unable to wake up or unconscious; having a sudden severe headache or confusion; experiencing a seizure or severe head injury; having severe difficulty breathing or trouble speaking; experiencing uncontrolled or severe bleeding; having major trauma, like the loss of a limb; undergoing a severe allergic reaction or burns.

Emergency: Patients should call 911 and/or visit an emergency room (open 24-7) if they (or someone they know) are having a stroke, experiencing facial weakness or extremity weakness; having a heart attack or chest pain; unable to wake up or unconscious; having a sudden severe headache or confusion; experiencing a seizure or severe head injury; having severe difficulty breathing or trouble speaking; experiencing uncontrolled or severe bleeding; having major trauma, like the loss of a limb; undergoing a severe allergic reaction or burns.

Winnipeg hospitals with emergency departments: Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital, Grace Hospital, Concordia Hospital (until June 2019), Seven Oaks General Hospital (until September 2019).

Urgent Care: Urgent care centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and meant to address urgent but not life-threatening health concerns. Those include: illnesses, injuries or infections; dehydration; cuts that won't stop bleeding; injured limbs that may be broken or sprained.

Winnipeg hospitals with urgent care centres: Victoria General Hospital, Concordia (after June 2019), Seven Oaks General (after September 2019)

Unsure where to go?

If your not sure whether to visit emergency, urgent care or another clinic option, call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 for advice.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont also attributed the government's change of pace to politicking, noting: "We’re going into an election, so they’re playing defence."

The Pallister government appeared not to listen to hundreds of Manitobans who previously told it not to close Concordia's ER, choosing instead to listen to the advice of an outside consultant, Lamont said.

"The idea that you can fix something while you’re demolishing it at the same time is completely ridiculous... They’re trying to paper over all the cracks in their plan."

The nurses union said converting Concordia to an urgent care centre still leaves northeast Winnipeg and the surrounding communities underserved, and won't alleviate the pressure that's been put on remaining emergency departments.

"Changing the plan this late in the process also creates real human resources challenges, as many nurses have already selected new positions in different areas," MNU president Darlene Jackson said in a statement.

Debbie Boissonneault, president of CUPE Local 204, which represents support workers at Concordia, said the announcement brings yet more uncertainty.

The union had been informed in December that 23 full-time staff would be laid off, she said. A bumping process took place with more senior workers being allowed to stay at the hospital. But others have moved on to new jobs.

Friesen acknowledged staffing at Concordia will be a challenge. He said that is why the government moved quickly to communicate its revised plan.

He also expressed the opinion the decision to open a 24-7 urgent care centre at Concordia should alleviate concerns by orthopedic surgeons at the hospital, who feared their patients would lack adequate medical backup.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Legislature reporter

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Read full biography

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 9:06 PM CDT: Adds video

9:14 PM: Updates video link.

May 17, 2019 at 7:37 AM: Corrects that Peachey delivered his report two years ago

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