Manitoba

Winnipeg's walk-in connected-care clinics expanding hours in effort to help ease wait times

To reduce wait times at urgent care and emergency care centres, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is expanding hours at five walk-in clinics.

Clinics intended to offer alternative to urgent or emergency care for non-life-threatening issues

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joss Reimer, shown here in a 2021 file photo, says roughly 40 per cent of people who go to a Winnipeg urgent care centre or emergency department could get their health care at another location, like a walk-in clinic. On Thursday, the WRHA announced it will expand hours at its five connected-care clinics. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Winnipeg's five walk-in connected-care medical clinics will expand their hours in an effort to help ease strain at urgent care and emergency departments, after the provincial government promised another $1.4 million in funding for the clinics, the city's regional health authority announced Thursday.

"Every month, approximately 40 per cent of people who visit a Winnipeg urgent care centre or emergency department could potentially receive their health care at another location, like a walk-in clinic or doctor's office," Dr. Joss Reimer, chief medical officer of health at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said during a Thursday news conference to announce the expanded hours.

The walk-in clinics are intended to offer an alternative to urgent or emergency care for health issues that aren't life-threatening but need to be addressed the same day, such as sprains, infected wounds, bladder infections or digestive issues. Patients are treated by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses, who will directly communicate back to a patient's regular health-care provider if needed.

The changes mean the clinics will be open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Access Winnipeg West has already changed its hours. Access Fort Garry has expanded its hours but isn't open on weekends yet as the health authority works to recruit enough staff to fill all shifts.

The others — Access NorWest, Walk-In Connected Care McGregor and Walk-In Connected Care St. Boniface — are aiming to have enough staff for the expanded hours by Nov. 1.

Winnipeg's walk-in connected-care clinics, like Access Winnipeg West, will expand their hours, offering up to 150 more appointments across the city each day, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says. (CBC)

Currently, hours vary at the clinics, but some don't open until noon on weekdays.

Pat Younger, the executive director of community health services at the WRHA, says the change comes after looking for ways to improve usage at the connected-care clinics.

"We found that the most significant barriers were a lack of timely or same-day appointments, a limited number of available service providers and limited hours of operation," Younger said.

The new funding will help hire additional staff for the clinics, adding 30 appointments per day at each clinic — a total of 150 more daily appointments across the city, the health authority says.

Earlier this month, CBC News reported that some patients waited as long as 170 hours — more than a week — in Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre emergency department. 

These patients included an elderly woman with a brain bleed and a man with a fractured hip.

"Wait times are complex. They will not be solved overnight, and they will not be solved by today's announcement alone," Reimer said.

The health authority also said it has updated its My Right Care website, which will now offer information to help people decide where they should go for care, in addition to offering real-time information on waits for the five clinics.

Clarifications

  • We initially reported that Access Fort Garry already changed its hours. In fact, it has extended its hours but not to the full new schedule, as it does not yet have enough staff to be open all of those times.
    Sep 23, 2022 10:37 AM CT

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