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‘Doing nothing was not an option’: 3 Winnipeg emergency rooms closing down

WATCH: Lori Lamont, vice-president and chief nursing officer with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority breaks down the changes to Winnipeg emergency rooms.

Three of Winnipeg’s six emergency rooms are closing down, which the province says will improve patient care and reduce hospital wait times.

Concordia Hospital, Victoria General Hospital and Seven Oaks General Hospital will no longer have emergency departments.

Emergency services remain at the Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and Grace Hospital.

Other key changes:

  • Emergency departments at Seven Oaks General Hospital and Victoria Hospital will become urgent-care centres (for cases that are serious but not-life-threatening).
  • Concordia Hospital will offer speciality care in orthopaedics and geriatric rehabilitation services.
  • Victoria Hospital will add 50 beds for mental health services.
  • Misericordia Health Centre’s 24/7 urgent-care department will be “repurposed to accommodate and expand community intravenous therapy clinic.”
  • Deer Lodge will receive “enhanced capacity” for special needs residents, including those with dementia.

On Friday the province and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority made the announcement saying the changes are needed as services are too thinly spaced across Winnipeg’s six emergency rooms.

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READ MORE: Fewer emergency rooms on the way for Winnipeg

Officials called it the biggest change to Manitoba’s healthcare system in more than a decade.

““We need to change the system for better patient care,” Minister of Health Kelvin Goertzen said.

“Doing nothing was not an option. We could not continue to pour money into a system that was not working,” he said.

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Most of the changes will take place in the next six to 24 months.

Some jobs will be eliminated but frontline workers who want to keep their jobs will be able to, officials from the WRHA said.

The shakeup stems from a health report ordered by the previous NDP government. It called for drastic changes to Manitoba’s healthcare system and the conversion of three community hospitals.

Hoping to cut wait times

Winnipeggers experience some of the longest emergency-room wait times in the country, according to numbers released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

READ MORE: Winnipeg continues to have Canada’s worst ER wait times

The 2016 study found three Winnipeg hospitals were the worst in the country when it comes to emergency department wait times. Concordia Hospital had the longest wait time in Canada.

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Wait times in Winnipeg as of 2:07 p.m. Friday April 7, 2017.
Wait times in Winnipeg as of 2:07 p.m. Friday April 7, 2017. MyRightCare.ca

The WRHA said the changes should cut wait times in Winnipeg hospitals.

Urgent-care centres in other hospitals can handle the vast majority of current emergency room traffic – freeing up wait times, health officials said.

“Our goal is to become consistent with the Canadian average,” Goertzen said.

The national average for wait times is around three hours.

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