Misericordia urgent care to close overnight starting July 5
'People are already taking steps to seek non-urgent care in other settings'
The Misericordia Urgent Care Centre will only take patients from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting July 5, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says.
"We see low patient volumes at Misericordia Urgent Care Centre in the overnight hours. Those volumes drop throughout the night to an average of one patient per hour between midnight and 6 a.m.," Dr. Brock Wright, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority vice-president of clinical services and chief medical officer, said in a news release Friday.
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A memo leaked to the provincial NDP earlier this month said the centre would be closed overnight because of staff shortages.
The centre, which is located in the former emergency department of the inner-city hospital, is currently open 24 hours a day, but in an overhaul announced two months ago, the health authority said it will be converted to a community-based intravenous therapy clinic. That conversion will happen on Oct. 3.
Wright said since the changes were announced in April, some staff have decided to find work elsewhere. Combined with summer holidays, it's been extremely difficult to fill shifts.
"The vacancy rate has been around 30 per cent and we are anticipating it could climb as high as 36 per cent," he said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Staff members who normally work overnight at the centre will be offered day and evening shifts, which will help cover staff holidays, the health authority said.
WRHA said staff vacancy usually can range between five and 25 per cent at any given time.
"We believe that by doing this now we increase the likelihood that we will be able to maintain the service throughout the summer provided more staff don't decide to take jobs elsewhere," Wright said.
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Since April, the number of patients going to the urgent care centre has also decreased — about 12 per cent in the four weeks following the announcement.
"What this says to us is that people are already taking steps to seek non-urgent care in other settings, and the region's hospitals are ready and able to accommodate any increased volume this change may cause," Wright said.
On average, about 104 patients are seen at Misercordia each day, WRHA said.