A week after the provincial government announced that an urgent care centre would replace Concordia Hospital’s emergency department at the end of June, questions remain.
"It’s a big knot that we have to start picking apart," said Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union. "I’m not convinced that five weeks is enough to repair this. I’m not convinced urgent care will be adequate, but I guess we’ll see."
It’s a big knot that we have to start picking apart.
In April 2017, the provincial government announced plans to shut down Concordia’s ER in April 2018 as part of its sweeping health care reforms. 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 in June 2019.
On May 16, health minister Cameron Friesen announced that the plan had changed, and that an urgent care centre would replace the ER, rather than a walk-in clinic, citing increased patient volume at Concordia.
"The significant increase in the number of patients both presenting and requiring admission to hospitals throughout Winnipeg warrant a more robust model of care," Friesen said at the announcement.
However, with five weeks until the conversion to urgent care is to take place, Jackson noted that staffing concerns abound.
"It’s very difficult to recruit staff," she said. "Concordia local received notice of closure some time ago. Nurses then had to make the decision to transfer to another ER program or stay at another facility. Those decisions were made. Nurses, like everyone else, deserve job security. You also need physicans, you need technicians to run a lab."
A meeting between the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the MNU, and other stakeholders at Concordia was scheduled for May 23. However, at press time, no details had emerged regarding staffing at the hospital.
While some who have been petitioning the government to keep Concordia’s ER open may consider the new plan a small victory, Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe said the past two years have run local residents through the ringer.
"It’s hard to have any confidence in this new plan, because it’s now been shown that the plan as it was originally unrolled has been flawed," Wiebe said. "There’s a lot of damage that has been done, and that will take a long time to repair. In the meantime, people lose confidence in that facility and the health care system."
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112