AFTER closing 25 of its laboratories in other parts of Winnipeg, Dynacare representatives say there are no immediate plans to shutter any of its labs in Transcona or the eastern part of the city — for now.
"For the rest of Winnipeg, we have no plans, immediately," Dr. Jenisa Naidoo, chief scientific officer and vice-president of clinical development for the Ontario-based private company, said by phone Monday.
Except for hospital-based laboratories, Dynacare owns all facilities in Winnipeg that carry out services such as blood collection and urinalysis. In the coming weeks, the company is consolidating its services and replacing 25 labs in central, north, south and west Winnipeg with four "super sites."
"We’ll constantly look for ways to improve," said Naidoo.
The super sites will be run with more employees, more hours and free parking, making the labs more accessible for patients, she said. The consolidation is aimed at improving services and cutting out duplication at the labs, said Naidoo, who is based in Winnipeg but was out of the country Monday.
"In some instances, two collection sites were within 500 metres apart," she said. "Sometimes there would be 20 patients waiting to see one employee."
The super sites will also provide better working conditions for the employees who, at some of the old sites, didn’t even have a break room, said Naidoo, who bristled at the suggestion that lab consolidation was driven mainly by profit.
"If you look at those four (super) sites, we’ve invested in those four sites," she said.
Dynacare’s stance Monday did little to allay concerns of politicians who advocate for patient care.
"They’ll probably do the same thing in Transcona," said longtime Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard, a former physician. "They’re setting the precedent... and may have wanted extra time to figure out what was optimum in terms of their point of view in Transcona."
Meanwhile, the NDP MLA for Transcona said he has concerns about Dynacare closing area labs in the future.
"As a Transcona resident who uses these labs for routine testing, I share my constituents concerns that Dynacare may eventually close labs in northeast Winnipeg," said Nello Altomare, who was elected Sept. 10. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, on Oct. 8.
"The health minister is responsible for allowing Dynacare to create a monopoly in our city, and so should take steps to keep these labs open and ensure patients get the care they need close to home," Altomare, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments while fulfilling his duties as MLA, said by email.
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