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This article was published 9/5/2019 (252 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hundreds gathered on the steps of Concordia Hospital over the noon hour on May 8 to protest the impending closure of the hospital’s emergency room.
"Save our ER," the raucous crowd, which included representatives from labour unions, the provincial NDP and Liberal parties, and city council along with health care workers and area residents, chanted repeatedly. "Care not cuts!"
It was first announced in April 2017 that the provincial government planned to shut down Concordia’s ER in April 2018 as part of its sweeping health care reforms. Since then, the grassroots Save the Concordia ER Coalition has gathered over 1,000 signatures urging the premier and MLAs from across northeast Winnipeg to keep the ER open.
"I’m not a member of any political party," Claudette Wills, a volunteer with the Save the Concordia ER Coalition, told the crowd. "I’m an opinionated, emotional senior."
When Concordia’s ER was kept open past April 2018, Elmwood MLA Jim Maloway, who has been a vocal opponent of the plan, going so far as to distribute hundreds of yellow "Keep Concordia ER Open" signs across northeast Winnipeg, claimed public pressure had been effective.
"Our signs and effort," he said in March 2018, "have some effect on this result."
That assertion was rebuffed by Rossmere MLA Andrew Micklefield.
"The restructuring of health care delivery in Winnipeg is being guided by health care experts," Micklefield wrote in an email to The Herald at the time. "It is those health care experts that are guiding this restructuring, not Jim Maloway."
In July 2018, the province announced that a "walk-in connected care clinic" would partially replace the emergency room at Concordia Hospital after the ER closed.
"We don’t need another walk-in clinic here," Wills told the crowd on May 8. "In an emergency, we need the closest place for care."
The province recently announced that Dr. David Peachey had been hired to conduct a review of Phase 2 of Manitoba’s health care system overhaul, which includes the closure of the Concordia ER.
"Our government is focused on improving health outcomes, and it is with that focus that our government looks forward to receiving Dr. Peachey’s review," Micklefield wrote to The Herald in an email on May 8. "Unlike the NDP, we value Dr. Peachey’s input."
"The massive overhaul of our health care system has been plagued by chaos and confusion, the impending closure of Concordia ER is no exception," Brianne Goertzen, director of the Manitoba Health Coalition, said at the rally. "Northeast Winnipeg residents need to have access to timely, and quality emergency care and we echo their call to keep Concordia ER open."
Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe wrapped up the rally with an impassioned address, where he related his own life-saving experience with the emergency room, and called on residents to continue fighting to keep the space open.
"The closure of this ER cuts deep in the community," Wiebe told the crowd. "Two years we’ve been fighting, sending our message clearly. If the minister wants to start listening now, we want to save our ER."
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112