Manitoba

Closure of Seven Oaks emergency room to happen over the summer

The closure of the emergency room at Seven Oaks Hospital will happen sooner than expected, although Winnipeg health officials won't say exactly when.

Originally set for the fall, urgent care conversion expedited due to 'workforce considerations,' other factors

Seven Oaks Hospital health care workers took part in a rally Tuesday, calling for their ER and ICU to remain open. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The closure of the emergency room at Seven Oaks Hospital will happen sooner than expected, although Winnipeg health officials won't say exactly when.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokesperson Scott Sime confirmed Thursday night the timeline has been accelerated for the conversion of the Seven Oaks ER to an urgent care facility. The changeover had originally been planned for September.

"Based on the current assessment and to ensure patient safety and safe staffing levels, we are recommending that the conversion occur over the summer," Sime wrote in an email to CBC News.

The change is part of the ongoing overhaul of Manitoba's health-care system by the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Brian Pallister. Once completed, it will mean Seven Oaks is reserved for patients with urgent, same-day issues that are not life-threatening.

When asked whether the early departure of doctors and other staff led to the decision to close the ER earlier, Sime cited "workforce considerations, including the realities of physician and staff coverage." He also said it was based on demand and capacity at Seven Oaks and around the system, as well as "operational processes."

Sime acknowledged the city is in the midst of a "challenging" period of change, but said WRHA leadership is committed to confronting issues and concerns as they arise and identifying strategies to address them.

"The top priority of our planning is first and foremost patient safety and the stability of our health care system," he wrote.

Once a date for the conversion of the Seven Oaks ER has been finalized, Sime said staff will be the first to know.

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