ER closures expected as doctors concerned over rural and Northern Manitoba health care

Doctors Manitoba is launching a new webpage with advice for accessing emergency care in rural parts of the province. One rural physician says he's never seen so many ER'S closed in his career.

A new tool has been launched for those who need to access health care in rural and Northern Manitoba this summer, with emergency room closures and reduced operating hours expected.

Out of 68 hospitals and health centres in those areas, 18 ERs are not expected to reopen this summer after being closed for more than a year, while 34 will be open part-time with reduced hours or temporary suspensions.

“In all my years practicing medicine in rural Manitoba, I’ve never seen so many ERs closed or only open part-time,” Dr. David Cram from Souris says.

READ MORE: Winnipeg ER wait times inching up, according to Shared Health data

The RuralCare.ca website will give those Manitobans advice on how to plan ahead, guidance on what do during a medical emergency, and the expected status of ERs this summer at all rural and northern hospitals.

“There are hundreds of physicians all working to offer high quality care because we are deeply committed to the rural and Northern communities we serve,” said Dr. Nichelle Desilets, a physician in Neepawa. “But severe staffing shortages are making it difficult to maintain services in many hospitals right now.”

Shared Health says COVID-19 has exacerbated what had already been long-time staffing issues in rural regions and a spokesperson says 17 of these ERs have had service suspensions dating back at least a decade.

“Maintaining access to health services for Manitobans in need of urgent or emergent care is a high priority for all health regions.

As part of Manitoba’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan, efforts are underway across the province to support reliable hours and service levels for emergency departments and urgent care centres serving Manitoba communities.”

 

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