Concordia ER to become urgent care centre as province backtracks on health-care plan

Click to play video 'Friesen on Concordia' Friesen on Concordia
WATCH: Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced Thursday the emergency room at the Concordia Hospital will be replaced with a 24-hour urgent-care centre, saying they have revisited their transformation plan.

The Manitoba government has backed off part of its plan to cut emergency room services in Winnipeg.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the emergency room at the Concordia Hospital will be replaced with a 24-hour urgent-care centre in the next four to six weeks instead of the walk-in clinic originally planned.

Urgent-care centres are open around the clock but don’t deal with life-threatening issues.

Nurses and doctors have said the ER closure would hurt patient care and leave fewer medical backup services for surgeries at Concordia.

Friesen says the government is willing to listen to people and alter its plans when needed.

Concordia is one of three Winnipeg hospitals having their emergency room closed or converted to another level of service under a plan announced by the Progressive Conservatives shortly after their 2016 election victory.

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READ MORE:  Concordia closure to be reviewed

The other closures, at the Victoria General and Seven Oaks hospitals, are proceeding as planned.

“It’s challenging work to run health care … it’s more challenging still to change the way we work within the health-care system,” Friesen said Thursday.

“Were there gaps? Were there mistakes made? Absolutely. But what we’re doing today is announcing that this is a government that listens. This is a government that is willing to make its plan adaptable.”

The opposition parties said the Tories are caving to immense public pressure in the face of a possible election. Premier Brian Pallister has said he may call a vote this year instead of the scheduled date of Oct. 6, 2020.

“Right before an expected election call, the government’s pulling a pretty significant turnaround … and it seems like they’re just trying to defuse and do damage control,” said NDP Opposition Leader Wab Kinew.

Friesen said his change of heart was prompted by recent data that shows services in the Concordia area are needed, including an aging population and a jump in the need for hospital care.

READ MORE: Winnipeg ER wait times will keep climbing: WRHA

“What the data shows us is that, even in the year and a half to two years in which we’ve been on this journey … we’ve seen a 12 per cent increase in ambulance volumes at Winnipeg hospitals. We’ve seen an 11 per cent increase in patients presenting requiring

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WATCH: Northeast Winnipeg residents call for ER to stay open

Click to play video 'North east Winnipeg residents call for ER to remain open' North east Winnipeg residents call for ER to remain open
North east Winnipeg residents call for ER to remain open