A recent announcement by the Prairie Mountain Health Region that hospital and emergency services are being suspended or reduced in a number of areas due to staffing shortages has communities looking for solutions.
In the town of Melita, which is home to the Melita Health Centre — currently closed through the end of August — officials held a public meeting Tuesday to discuss the impact.
“It’s a great concern,” Melita mayor Bill Holden told Global News.
“We have a big catchment area and I don’t think people really realize it. Our catchment area goes to the corner of the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border and the Manitoba/North Dakota border, so it’s a huge area… that is quite a ways away from different healthcare centres, so Melita is a logical place to go.”
Holden said the meeting — which attracted more than 200 area residents in person and many more following online — generated some good discussion about the nursing shortage throughout rural Manitoba.
Councillors from six neighbouring towns and municipalities also attended, he said, and both provincial NDP leader Wab Kinew and Liberal leader Dougald Lamont called in.
Holden said the representatives of Prairie Mountain and Manitoba’s Shared Health will be working with community leaders in an attempt to “get this thing alleviated by the fall.”
“One of the solutions was to try and get more schooling in here,” he said.
“We’ve got a facility in Melita to run a (licensed practical nurse) course. We ran one four years ago and we haven’t had one since.
“Part of the problem with that is these nurses — I guess with burnout — they go other places. We want more courses, and more people in the nursing industry.”
In addition to Melita, emergency and hospital admissions have been temporarily suspended in Treherne. Grandview will see its overnight and weekend emergency services temporarily suspended as of Friday, while Souris has suspended its emergency services on Mondays and Wednesdays.
In a statement last week, Prairie Mountain said the shortages are due, in part, to vacancies, staff leaves, and vacations.