Leaf Rapids hospital to reopen Monday, but staffing situation remains 'fragile,' health region says

A northern Manitoba hospital that has been closed for nearly a month over persistent staffing problems is reopening on Monday, although ongoing operations remain in jeopardy.

Manitoba NDP, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak called for state of emergency in area

The Leaf Rapids Health Centre will open on Monday at 4 p.m., although ongoing operations are unstable because of ongoing staffing shortages. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

A northern Manitoba hospital that has been closed for nearly a month over persistent staffing problems is reopening on Monday, although ongoing operations remain in jeopardy.

The Leaf Rapids Health Centre, which is located about 750 kilometres north of Winnipeg, will reopen at 4 p.m. on Monday, after closing on Dec. 29, the Northern Regional Health Authority said in a notice posted to social media on Friday.

Previously, the health authority said it would reopen on Jan. 10 but later said it would be closed indefinitely.

"The staffing situation remains fragile and any additional sick calls or COVID-19 staff screening exclusions may jeopardize the centre remaining open," Friday's notice said.

"Every effort is being made to maintain health services close to home. The Northern Health Region would like to thank the public for their understanding during this very challenging time."

This latest closure was the third time the hospital closed during the pandemic because of staffing problems.

On Friday, prior to the announcement of the reopening, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak called on the provincial government and the town of Leaf Rapids, which doesn't have a mayor and council but is governed by an administrator appointed by the province, to declare a state of emergency.

The Manitoba NDP support that call.

Ian Bushie, the NDP MLA for Keewatinook, said northern Manitoba needs help now.

"We're not looking for more announcements to say we promise to work together. We need boots on the ground, pen to paper, to be able to say this is what we need and this is how we're going to address the situation," he said at a news conference on Thursday.

"If I could summarize how this government is working right now when it comes to northern Manitoba health, it's closing what we have, but ignoring what we need."

Leaf Rapids resident Dennis Anderson has told CBC News on other occasions that health care in the town has been lacking for years prior to the pandemic, but is certainly less reliable now.

Meanwhile, Flin Flon NDP MLA Tom Lindsay said the government has abandoned people in the north.

"People in Leaf Rapids, and Gillam too, have been left on their own. They've been completely abandoned by this PC government — minus 40 degree temperatures and no health care available in their community. It's just pure luck that somebody hasn't gotten seriously hurt so far," he said.

CBC News has reached out to the province for a response.


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