Manitoba’s premier and health minister announced a multi-million expansion of Selkirk’s hospital Friday, but say word about broader plans to deal with a surgical and diagnostic backlog called unsustainable by doctors will have to wait until next week.
Premier Heather Stefanson said a $31.6 million expansion project at Selkirk Regional Health Centre will bring 30 more acute-care impatient beds and “help to ensure Manitobans living, working and travelling through this region of the province will be able to access the care they need when they need it.”
The announcement comes more than a week after a speech from the throne where Stefanson reiterated an earlier promise to set up a group to tackle a backlog in surgeries caused by COVID-19.
That backlog has climbed to more than 136,000, according to the latest estimates from Doctors Manitoba.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon said an announcement on the province’s promised plans for the backlog is coming next Wednesday.
“We’re taking a very provincial approach to many local issues,” Gordon said when asked what she’d say to patients and their families currently waiting for medical services.
“We are engaged with other regional health authorities in discussions around the needs and we take very seriously, as a government, our commitment to provide Manitobans with the surgeries they need as well as their diagnostic tests.
“An announcement is forthcoming on that work.”
Doctors Manitoba, an advocacy group representing 4,000 doctors in Manitoba, has been calling for a taskforce to deal the backlog since June.
Since then provincial officials have announced further cancellations and postponements in an effort to ensure staff and hospital bed space is available to deal a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The expansion at Selkirk Regional Health Centre is part of a wider $812-million plan to build, expand and renovate health-care facilities across the province first announced in the government’s 2021 budget.
Gordon said construction on the Selkirk project is expected to begin next year.
She noted the work will see the hospital able to offer more specialized services, including surgical and inpatient care. The extra beds will allow care to be delivered locally for more people, including a higher volume of surgical and endoscopy patients, she added.
The number of surgeries performed at the Selkirk hospital, including general procedures, gynecology, urology, plastics and endoscopy, will be increased when the renovations are complete, the province said in a release.