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Saskatchewan rural town seeks government answers after two-year long hospital closure

Tony Mycock, mayor of Lanigan, Sask., travelled to Regina's legislative building on Wednesday to call on the provincial government for answers about the reopening of the community's local hospital. He says the inconvenience of the hospitals closure has been frustrating for the town and its residents. Adrian Raaber / Global News

Residents of a Saskatchewan town had their concerns voiced at legislature on Wednesday after not having access to their town’s emergency services for nearly two years.

Tony Mycock, mayor of Lanigan, Sask., travelled to Regina’s legislative building on Wednesday to call on the provincial government for answers about the reopening of the community’s local hospital.

He says the inconvenience of the hospitals closure has been frustrating for the town and its residents.

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“We have a great ambulance…and they’ve been run off their feet because they’re transporting patients to Humboldt or Saskatoon,” Mycock said.

“We can’t even get a tetanus shot in town. We have two really good doctors and we’re not utilizing those doctors and it’s just frustrating for everybody.”

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Lanigan Hospital’s emergency services closed back in May 2020, as part of the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) designation of hospitals as COVID or non-COVID facilities. The community’s hospital shares a building with a long-term health care home, so the closure ensured the safety of the home’s residents.

Since the closure, Lanigan residents needing emergency services have had to be transported to alternative hospitals that were open, despite being distances away, such as in Humboldt, Sask., or even Saskatoon.

Despite being promised a temporary closure, Mycock says no moves have been made to reopen the facility, with little dialogue for a solution from provincial government taking place.

“We hear that it’s going to open at the end of this month and it gets pushed off again and again and again. We just want some answers and whatever we can do to work together to figure this problem out.”

Mycock says residents have continuously been raising concerns about the hospital. He says there are a number of concerns related to the hospital’s closure, including an increasing population in the town and long wait times at available hospitals for health care.

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Mycock says SHA has been citing staff shortages as a main reason for the delay in reopening the hospital.

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Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley says the Saskatchewan government is working on funding an approach to recruit and train more health care professionals. The approach includes the virtual recruitment of 150 health-care workers from the Philippines, more training seats and the creation of a new health human resources agency.

“Some of this can’t happen overnight, but we realize that there’s pressures in these communities that we need to address as quickly as we can and that’s what our commitment is from us as a government to the community leaders across this province,” Hindley said.

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Official Opposition health critic Vicki Mowat criticized the government’s handling of the community’s hospital closure.

“I was astonished to hear that after two years this community has no answers about the state of emergency care in their town,” Mowat said.

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“And it’s not just affecting Lanigan, it’s the surrounding communities that rely on emergency services in this area for their health care…it’s deeply disappointing to see that government hasn’t prioritized this community.”

When asked about an expected timeline, Hindley said he did not have a target date for the hospital’s reopening. He says the government plans to meet with Lanigan representatives as quickly as possible.

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