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Changes coming for sick children at Regina's hospitals

A plan to consolidate pediatric care in Regina, including using Saskatoon for the most critical cases, has the approval of the region's health authority. A final decision on the change will be up to the provincial minister of health.

Pasqua losing pediatric unit, General to take some of the cases

The board of the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region met Wednesday night to discuss consolidation of pediatric services to the General Hospital. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC)

A plan to consolidate pediatric care in Regina, including using Saskatoon for the most critical cases, has the approval of the region's health authority. A final decision on the change will be up to the provincial minister of health.

If the minister concurs, the plan would see the Regina General Hospital become the main hospital for pediatric care for southern Saskatchewan, including services that are currently provided at the Pasqua Hospital.

The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region considered the moves during a special meeting Wednesday.

"In the end, safety of the children was the biggest goal in making this move," said Lloyd Boutilier, chair of the health region board. "It did take six months to get all the answers and we felt at the end of this meeting, our board felt that that was the right decision."

The recommendations, developed by region officials, include moving the Pasqua's oncology and surgical teams, for children, to the General. Officials said it is better to consolidate at one hospital so that nurses, doctors and other health care providers will have enough cases to keep their skills sharp.

But Marilyn Fahlman, whose son was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2009 and was recently discharged from the Pasqua, said she's not ready to write off the hospital's pediatric wing.

"I am very concerned," Fahlman said. "I would ask that someone would take them to task and look at the statistics they provide. They talk about the higher rate of error statistically at the Pasqua. That wasn't our experience."

The health region will also, if the plan gets ministerial approval, send critically ill children to Saskatoon for care. Officials said the changes would affect about 40 to 60 cases in a typical year. 

The Regina General would then be home to a new "high acuity" unit for non-critical cases.

Overall, the region treats about 2,500 children in a year.

Officials said implementing the changes would require renovations that are estimated to cost $2.2 million.

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