Saskatchewan announces $30M to build urgent care centres in Regina and Saskatoon

An example of what the urgent care centres could look like, according to the Government of Saskatchewan. Slavo Kutas/Global News

The Saskatchewan government is investing $30 million to build two new urgent care centres in the province.

Health Minister Jim Reiter said the centres — in Regina and Saskatoon — will ease pressure on emergency rooms.

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“Both Regina and Saskatoon emergency departments experience significant capacity pressures,” Reiter said Monday in a statement.

“The urgent care centres planned for these cities will provide a viable solution to address this issue by reducing wait times, improving overall patient experience and connecting people to the follow-up care they need within their communities.”

At a press conference Monday, Premier Scott Moe said the province has grown by over 170,000 since 2007, and the growing population is putting pressure on emergency care, with emergency room visits rising by 4 per cent between 2015 and 2019.

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Health officials said the centres will provide injury care such as stitches and casting for minor broken bones like fingers and toes.

“If you had the symptoms of a flu, for example, or you had an injury such as a sprained limb or needed an x-ray … you would be able to receive that much quicker at the urgent care centre,” he said.

“This will not take everyone out of the emergency room by any stretch, but it will take some of those (patients) out … to get a quicker diagnosis and a quicker entry into the care level.”

The centres will also provide treatment for infections, fevers, rashes and flu symptoms and respiratory care such as asthma, and on-site diagnostic imaging, pharmaceutical and laboratory services.

Urgent mental health and addictions support will also be provided.

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“We’ll have some brief therapy … as well as a very quick connection to the resources that the province provides,” explained Moe.

Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the centres are part of their connected care strategy.

“This presents a great opportunity to expand services to the people of (both cities) and provides an appropriate alternative to the emergency departments when urgent care is needed,” said Livingstone.

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“The urgent care centre will provide people (with) an additional option for accessing urgent care in addition to family physicians, primary health care clinics and others in (the) community.”

Plans have yet to be finalized on where the centres — at a cost of $15 million each — will be located in each city.

The province said funding for the centres is part of its $7.5-billion capital plan to stimulate the economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2022.

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