August 18, 2019

Winnipeg
20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Concordia ER redirection creates 'big snowball' of staffing woes

Health officials are scrambling to meet a five-week deadline to transition Concordia Hospital's emergency room to an urgent care centre, following an about-face last week by the Pallister government.

Administrators were said to be in closed-door meetings Tuesday, trying to sort out a host of staffing challenges that will have a ripple effect across Winnipeg's hospital system.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced the creation of an urgent care centre for Concordia on May 16, after receiving a consultant's report on the government's hospital reorganization efforts. Concordia's ER had previously been slated to close and a walk-in clinic, open 12 hours a day, was to rise in its place.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority declined requests for interviews Tuesday about the enormity of the job at hand. It also refused to provide a statement.

Get the full story:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Health officials are scrambling to meet a five-week deadline to transition Concordia Hospital's emergency room to an urgent care centre, following an about-face last week by the Pallister government.

Administrators were said to be in closed-door meetings Tuesday, trying to sort out a host of staffing challenges that will have a ripple effect across Winnipeg's hospital system.

Cameron Friesen Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Cameron Friesen Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced the creation of an urgent care centre for Concordia on May 16, after receiving a consultant's report on the government's hospital reorganization efforts. Concordia's ER had previously been slated to close and a walk-in clinic, open 12 hours a day, was to rise in its place.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority declined requests for interviews Tuesday about the enormity of the job at hand. It also refused to provide a statement.

All of a sudden, Concordia will need more doctors than it once thought, after several were laid off or found new positions within the system due to the planned ER closure. Finding them, on time, will not be a slam dunk.

Suddenly, some of the dozens of Concordia ER nurses who planned to transfer to other hospitals — even picking out vacation time according to seniority at these new institutions — may reconsider the move and choose to remain at the urgent care centre. Or they may not.

Laboratory technologists and assistants at Concordia had been going through the process of finding opportunities elsewhere under the assumption the ER — and their lab — was closing. Now, it's unknown whether all or part of the lab will be shut down.

It's also unknown how the abrupt change in plans will affect hospital support workers, who were also facing layoffs with the ER closure.

Even before the Pallister government's change in plan, Concordia's ER was hobbling. Staff were taking matters into their own hands and transferring to other institutions rather than waiting for administrators to move them or give them the pink slip.

 

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 an urgent care centre after pushback from the community.

Victoria

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

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

 

Ambulances were occasionally being diverted to other hospitals because of staff shortages at the Concordia ER. Nursing vacancies, in particular, were an issue, and the number of overtime shifts were rising as a result.

"They have been struggling to try and keep that department going," said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.

Nurses who wanted to continue to work in a hospital emergency room had to transfer to either Health Sciences Centre, Grace Hospital or St. Boniface Hospital by the end of June. But others affected by the Concordia ER closure may now choose to remain at the hospital and work in the new urgent care centre

It is difficult to amend one part of the government's multifaceted city hospital reorganization effort without making changes elsewhere. Many of the changes are interconnected.

"It's like a big snowball going down a mountain. It's really hard to stop it once it starts rolling," said Jackson.

Two town hall-style meetings with Concordia staff — conducted over the telephone — will be held Thursday. It's unlikely any public announcements on new staffing needs or arrangements will be made before then.

Bob Moroz, president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, said about 20 of his members who are working in the hospital's lab would be the most immediately impacted.

"We are waiting right now to hear what they're actually going to do with that lab," he said Tuesday.

The union also represents CT technologists, ultrasound technologists and respiratory therapists at the hospital. Even as late as last week, plans had not been finalized as to how all these employees would be affected under the previous plan. Their situation is even more up in the air now.

Will authorities, for example, now continue to approve 24-hour respiratory care at the hospital? That is unknown, Moroz said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.