Closing ERs won’t alleviate wait times

By Flor Marcelino, MLA for Logan

As published in The Times June 26, 2017

When you or your loved one is having a medical emergency, you want to be certain that high-quality care is close to home. Even before a medical emergency occurs, families should be able to access health care locally, without travelling 20 minutes or more to the nearest emergency room.

Over the past few months, the government has made sweeping cuts to our health care system. In addition to closing the St. Boniface QuickCare Clinic, and getting rid of the Hospital Home Team, the government has abandoned plans for a new CancerCare facility, much needed personal care homes across Manitoba, a primary care clinic in The Pas, a northern consultation clinic for Thompson, a community clinic for St. Vital, a health and wellness centre in Concordia, an international centre for dignity and palliative care at the University of Manitoba, and a new facility for the Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg.

Furthermore, the provincial government is now putting plans in place to close three emergency rooms, and an urgent care centre in downtown Winnipeg. The ERs at Seven Oaks and Victoria General Hospital will be converted to urgent care centres, while nationally recognized Misericordia Urgent Care Centre is going to close.

The Health Sciences Centre (HSC), located here in Logan, will be keeping its ER. However, with the closing of three other ERs, there are serious and legitimate concerns about overcrowding at the remaining ERs. Inevitably, if you cut the supply of emergency rooms in half, the demand at the remaining ERs will increase.

According to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA)’s annual report, there were more than 100,000 ER visits between the three ERs in jeopardy during 2015-2016, and these numbers are on the rise. Those are people who would now have to find emergency care elsewhere. HSC saw a little under 111,000 ER visits in the last fiscal year alone; how can it possibly accommodate more visits?

Closing three ERs and overburdening three others won’t help alleviate wait times. Instead of misguided austerity, this government should invest in public education and frontline workers to improve efficiency.

If you have any questions about the restructuring of our health care system, feel free to get in touch with me at Flor.Marcelino@yourmanitoba.ca

,or call my constituency office at 204-788-0800.