Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba Government Closes Three of Six Emergency Rooms in Winnipeg

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba Government Closes Three of Six Emergency Rooms in Winnipeg

Article excerpt

Manitoba closing three ERs in Winnipeg


WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is closing three of Winnipeg's six hospital emergency departments and refocusing two of them on non-life-threatening care.

Critics said the changes will leave patients in many areas of the city facing longer wait times, but health officials said it will actually shorten waits by diverting less-urgent matters away from the remaining emergency rooms.

"We know that about 45 per cent of people who currently attend at our hospital emergency departments come to us with fairly low-level types of illnesses and injuries," Lori Lamont, chief nursing officer with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said Friday.

"Those people's needs will be better met in an urgent-care environment."

The decision comes in the wake of a consultant's report ordered under the previous NDP government. The report said Winnipeg has more emergency rooms than some larger cities such as Calgary, adding it was inefficient and made for unnecessarily long wait times.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information, a non-profit national agency that tracks health statistics, said in a report last year that Winnipeg emergency rooms had some of the longest wait times in the country.

The changes will see emergency rooms at Seven Oaks Hospital and Victoria Hospital converted to urgent care centres. The emergency room at Concordia Hospital will be closed and the hospital will focus more on transitional care for the elderly and physical rehabilitation.

The three remaining emergency-room hospitals -- Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and Grace Hospital -- will be given more surgical beds and expanded mental health services.

The idea, according to the regional health authority, is to concentrate emergency departments at facilities equipped with specialists.

Dr. Alecs Chochinov, head of the health authority's emergency program, said there are very few centres staffed by specialists who can perform procedures such as heart surgery. …

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