Selkirk hospital expansion expected to add 30 acute care beds by 2024
$31.6M project at Selkirk Regional Health Centre will also increase Manitoba's surgical capacity: province
More people in the Selkirk area will be able to access certain surgeries and acute care closer to home when the province completes a planned expansion of the city's hospital, officials said Friday morning.
That expansion is expected to see 30 acute care inpatient beds added to the Selkirk Regional Health Centre by 2024.
"By improving services in Selkirk, we are supporting the delivery of more health-care services that are more convenient for patients living in this area," Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at a news conference in the city.
The extra beds will also help increase Manitoba's overall surgical capacity and position the health centre to offer more specialized services, said hospital medical lead Dr. Anthony Herd, who joined Gordon at the news conference.
"We're enhancing health care regionally, but we're also strengthening our provincial health-care system. And this will benefit all Manitobans," Herd said.
Construction on the $31.6-million project is scheduled to start next year, said David Matear, CEO of the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority.
Staffing plans for the new beds are ongoing and will depend on which types of surgeries are involved in the expanded program, Matear said.
The announcement comes as Manitoba's surgical backlog continues to grow amid a fourth wave of COVID-19 straining the health-care system.
That backlog has affected a wide range of elective procedures, while the strain on the health-care system has resulted in some Manitobans being transferred to facilities far from home to free up hospital space.
Details about a task force to address the backlog are expected soon. Earlier this year, $50 million was earmarked for the initiative, but little other information has been revealed.
Details lacking: Opposition
Opposition NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said Friday's announcement lacked critical details from the Progressive Conservative government, including who is going to staff the new beds.
"Where are they going to find the nurses and the allied health-care professionals? There's no plan whatsoever mentioned to address the fact that we are currently in a staffing crisis that is a direct result of their cuts and their mistreatment of nurses and health-care workers," Asagwara said.
They also called it "totally unacceptable" that the update didn't include more details about the province's task force to address the current backlog. Gordon promised those details will be announced next week.
That sentiment was echoed by Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.
"Today's announcement is not actually going to do anything urgent to address a massive backlog in surgical procedures and tests, which should be the single greatest priority of this government," he said.
"This is really a construction announcement. It's not a health-care announcement."
But Herd, the hospital medical lead, said he hopes the expansion will help attract more health-care workers, including surgeons, to the region.
The project will also include minor design changes to improve patient flow. It's expected to expand treatment capacity in the hospital's emergency department by moving people into beds and freeing up space sooner, Herd said.
The extra beds also mean the facility will be able to do more surgeries and other procedures, including gynecology, urology, plastics and endoscopy, Premier Heather Stefanson said.
The facility, which opened in 2017, currently offers care for patients from across the Interlake-Eastern health region — which includes Selkirk, just northeast of Winnipeg — and some from northern suburbs in Winnipeg, the province said. Right now, it has 65 in-patient beds.