Seven Oaks Hospital will likely lose its emergency department much sooner than expected.

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This article was published 20/6/2019 (665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Seven Oaks Hospital will likely lose its emergency department much sooner than expected.

Sources say the Pallister government has had to fast-track converting the hospital's ER to an urgent care centre because of a staffing crunch.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Seven Oaks General Hospital.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Seven Oaks General Hospital.

The conversion was scheduled to take place on Sept. 10 -- the date of the provincial election -- but it now may occur as early as July 9, according to two sources.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Health Minister Cameron Friesen denied that a new date had been set for the closure, but in separate statements both indicated it would occur over the summer.

"We have said the transition at Seven Oaks to a 24/7 urgent care centre will occur when it can be assured that patient safety standards and the stability of the overall system can be maintained," Friesen said. 

"Clinical leadership is recommending this transition occur this summer," he said. "That recommendation will be considered over the next few days."

Seven Oaks is facing the same issues that plagued Concordia Hospital as its ER closure date loomed -- employees are bolting, making it difficult to adequately staff the department.

"It is so hard to recruit nurses into a unit that is going to close," said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.

The nursing vacancy rate at Seven Oaks emergency stood at 30 per cent at the beginning of the year, she noted.

"We know that nurses are looking at other opportunities. They're going to other ERs. They're going to other places pre-emptively," she said.

There are "significant" staffing issues at Seven Oaks, Jackson said. "I am not surprised to hear that they're considering doing the close early."

Physician staffing has also been a big concern at the Seven Oaks ER, particularly with prime summer vacation season at hand.

"No doubt that their ability to fill a roster, just like (Concordia) has been severely compromised," a source said. "So they will need to switch over (to an urgent care centre) sooner as they cannot staff a full ER (with doctors)."

Réal Cloutier, president and CEO of the WRHA, held a hastily arranged meeting with Seven Oaks ER physicians on Thursday afternoon to hear their concerns, sources said.

While staffing shortages are driving an earlier-than-anticipated ER closure at Seven Oaks, there may be political considerations as well.


Winnipeg’s ER changes

Concordia

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

( JUNE 2019)

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

(LIKELY JULY 2019)

Victoria

CONVERT TO

URGENT CARE

HSC

REMAINS OPEN

St. Boniface

REMAINS OPEN

Grace

REMAINS OPEN

Misericordia

CLOSED

Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Winnipeg’s ER changes

Concordia

Victoria

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

( JUNE 2019)

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

(LIKELY JULY 2019)

CONVERT TO

URGENT CARE

HSC

St. Boniface

Grace

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

Misericordia

CLOSED

Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Winnipeg’s ER changes

Seven Oaks was set to transform into an urgent care centre in September 2019. Now, the change will likely take place in July.

Seven Oaks

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE 

Concordia

HSC

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

REMAINS OPEN

St. Boniface

Grace

Misericordia

REMAINS OPEN

REMAINS OPEN

CLOSED

Victoria

CONVERT TO URGENT CARE

Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority


The Pallister government likely wants to have the matter dealt with well before the election, Jackson said.

"Originally, the timelines were Sept. 10 for the conversion (to an urgent care) and Sept. 20 for the staff change. That would coincide right with the election date, which I'm sure the government is not wanting to happen," she said.

Meanwhile, Cloutier issued a statement to hospital staff late Thursday saying that system-wide efforts are underway to increase hospital capacity in Winnipeg.

"Today, we can confirm the opening of 42 additional beds at Grace, St. Boniface, HSC (Health Sciences Centre) and Concordia," he said. "These will be permanently staffed beds that will remain in place for at least the next 12 months. Recruitment to staff ... these beds has begun, and they will open as soon as they can be reliably filled."

A bed shortage at St. Boniface Hospital caused that institution's emergency room to turn away patients for 24 hours last week.

There are fears within the system that the three remaining hospitals with ERs will not be able to cope once Seven Oaks' ER shuts down.

Health Sciences Centre and Grace Hospital are also struggling to keep up with patient volumes, Jackson 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.

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