“Oct. 3 will be a very significant date for us,” WRHA vice-president Lori Lamont told a news conference called to publicize the authority’s 2-year timelines that will drastically overhaul health-care delivery in Winnipeg hospitals. Misericordia UC and Victoria Hospital ER will be closed in October.
Phase 1, which will outcome in the Victoria and Misericordia transitions, will run through the winter of 2018; phase 2 will deal with the closure of the emergency departments (EDs) at Seven Oaks General Hospital and Concordia Hospital. Dates for those closures will rely on how long it takes to complete the expansion of Grace Hospital’s emergency department, Lamont claimed.
Once Grace has its additional capacity — potentially next spring or summer — the Seven Oaks ER will become an urgent-care centre while Concordia shifts to transitional and complex continuing care. Misericordia UC and Victoria Hospital ER will be closed in October.
The ER closings are the most important elements in the massive overhaul that will result in dozens of services, units and departments consolidated and shifted among the city’s major health-care facilities. Emergency services will be available merely at the Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface General Hospital and Grace Hospital.
“It is emotional, I understand that,” Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen stated. “The system is not doing well. We’re not doing well when it comes to wait times.
“The plan is deployed on the best evidence, on what is working in other provinces,” he said. “To do nothing was never an option.”
The province will continuously monitor the impact of changes, but hasn’t set any specific date by when it must mark improvement or when it hopes to catch up to the national average, he claimed.
Lamont said the transition times involving closing some units and moving others will target to “minimize the impact on patients” and avoid mass transfers of sufferers. The WRHA has met with more than 3,000 staff and continues to assure workers everyone who needs a job will still have one, she said.
“We identify the procedure will be disruptive,” stated WRHA senior legal counsel Karlee Blatz, adding staff in a unit that is being moved elsewhere will get first shot at moving to the new facility. “We will be targeting the specialty-care areas first.”
NDP health critic Matt Wiebe accused the WRHA of moving far too quickly to satisfy political orders. Misericordia UC and Victoria Hospital ER will be closed in October.
“It is an incredibly tight timeline. The WRHA is scrambling to backfill decisions that have been made,” he stated. “We just do not think the resources will be there.”
Goertzen countered the NDP did nothing for fifteen years while Manitoba’s wait times were the worst in Canada, and inquired how long New Democrats think residents should wait for positive changes.
Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard, a physician, pointed out a dedicated stroke centre is not part of the plan. Misericordia UC and Victoria Hospital ER will be closed in October.
“The PC plan to close Misericordia urgent-care centre is wrong, misguided and a tragic mistake,” he said. “I’m not convinced that closing Victoria and Seven Oaks hospitals’ ERs and replacing them with urgent-care centres is the best option, but whatever is done should have a much better level of community and staff consultation than has occurred to date. Concordia Hospital should also have an urgent-care centre.”
WRHA vice-president of finance Glenn McLellan told the news conference the permanent changes will save $31 million a year — part of the $83 million the province told the WRHA to decrease in its budget. The agency is cutting management 15%, as the province directed, and is finding sweeping efficiencies and better ways to do its job — and the consolidation of services is part of that, he said.
Communications director Leah Janzen said the WRHA plans to start an extensive education campaign so members of the public know where and when to go for several medical services. As the transition plays out over the next 2 years, the WRHA website will feature an updated interactive map so individuals can find the closest suitable service available.
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