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'Quick pivot' at Concordia: shift to urgent care set for June 3

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/5/2019 (200 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Northeast Winnipeg residents, nurses and medical staff have been given five days' notice: Concordia Hospital's emergency department will be converted to an urgent care centre on June 3.

Concordia will keep its intensive care unit and high-acuity beds until the end of June, as the hospital winds down emergency services.

Manitoba health-care officials said the decision to bump up the transition to urgent care —originally planned for the end of June — was necessary, due to dwindling staff levels at Concordia.

Many have accepted jobs elsewhere in the health-care system. Now, leadership will try to recruit them (and others) back to Concordia.

Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, chief medical officer of the Concordia Hospital

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, chief medical officer of the Concordia Hospital

"Certainly, it is a quick pivot in a completely different direction. But we are hearing that lots of the staff who previously worked at Concordia are excited about the opportunity to come back," said Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, the hospital's chief medical officer.

Representatives from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Shared Health and Concordia spoke Wednesday on the "quick pivot." However, they could not say how many beds will be required at Concordia's urgent care centre, which will also determine staffing levels.

"At the end of the day, it is a lower number of nurses and staff that’s required to run an urgent care. The skill set of that staff, particularly nurses, is higher because of the complement that’s required to be able to manage serious conditions that might present," Mihalchuk said.

"This is new to us at the facility, and we’re waiting to hear more information from the region about what exactly is the footprint of the urgent care."

Brock Wright, chief executive officer of Shared Health, acknowledged health-care leaders had "differences of opinion" on the best plan for Concordia's future — which earlier this year was set to include a walk-in clinic by the end of June.

'Frustrated' Seven Oaks Hospital staff rally to keep ER open

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After rallying over the lunch hour Wednesday to prevent the closure of the Seven Oaks General Hospital emergency department, staff learned that north Winnipeg's other ER at Concordia is being converted to an urgent care centre in days — not weeks, as planned.

"We're all extremely frustrated and confused," Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said after speaking at the rally.

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"As WRHA got closer to implementation, there were growing concerns about the adequacy of those plans and whether or not the models that had been developed could actually be staffed up," Wright said.

In early May, Dr. David Peachey was hired by the province to provide a progress report on its major changes to the health-care system. Peachey recommended Concordia's ER be converted to an urgent care centre rather than a walk-in clinic.

Both Wright and Réal Cloutier, president and CEO of the WRHA, said such a quality assurance update should have been performed sooner, considering the preset deadlines to close Concordia's ER in June and Seven Oaks General Hospital's ER in September.

"I think it’s a lesson learned for the system that we need to be on top of these things," Cloutier said, noting analysis for transition of Seven Oaks ER is already underway.

 

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

Health Minister Cameron Friesen assured Manitobans changes coming to Concordia are both realistic and safe.

"We’ve been working hard at this. Remember that it was already two weeks ago that we described very certainly to Manitobans that the transition would be in June at some point in time, that the transition would be to urgent care," he said.

The minister noted an estimated 65 per cent to 70 per cent of patients who have visited Concordia's ER would be appropriately cared for in an urgent care centre.

"You’ve heard me say: there is no road map when it comes to fundamental system change for health care. So it means we’ve had to be flexible. We’ve had to be adaptable and we certainly take into account that it has meant some disruption," Friesen said.

The sudden shift to an urgent care centre will affect staffing system-wide, as other Winnipeg hospitals were expecting to receive staff from Concordia, some of whom might now stay put.

"So I think they need to slow down and at least talk to nurses, because there’s been no conversations with nurses at all regarding this," said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union.

 (from left) Brock Wright, chief executive officer and provincial lead of health services, Shared Health, Réal Cloutier, president and chief executive officer, WRHA, and Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, chief medical officer, Concordia Hospital, and associate chief medical officer, WRHA.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

(from left) Brock Wright, chief executive officer and provincial lead of health services, Shared Health, Réal Cloutier, president and chief executive officer, WRHA, and Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, chief medical officer, Concordia Hospital, and associate chief medical officer, WRHA.

Reaction Wednesday from opposition politicians was scathing.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said giving only five days’ notice of the ER closure at Concordia is "completely irresponsible." He was unimpressed with Friesen’s assurances and called on the minister to resign his portfolio.

"We’re already seeing the chaos. We’re already seeing the confusion. What’s it going to be like after the weekend when a family is driving to the emergency room and then they find out suddenly… that it’s an urgent care?" he added. "At the end of the day, this is going to be a life-and-death decision."

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont echoed the concerns, calling the early closure of Concordia’s ER a "terrible decision."

He noted once the Pallister government’s health reforms are implemented, there will be no hospital emergency room north of the CPR tracks, a situation Lamont said threatens patient safety.

He called the government’s decision to "just charge ahead" with its hospital reorganization plan despite the concerns of front-line workers "reckless" and "dangerous."

— with files from Larry Kusch

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.

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