Saskatchewan

Rural ER closures could threaten lives, says hospital

One hospital east of Regina is warning that emergency room service reductions in rural Saskatchewan could threaten patients' lives.

One hospital east of Regina is warning that emergency room service reductions in rural Saskatchewan could threaten patients' lives.

Officials with the All Nations' Healing Hospital in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., said they have learned that the hospital in Balcarres, Sask., won't be able to offer emergency services for an indefinite period of time starting on Tuesday.

Then starting on Wednesday, the hospital in Wynyard, Sask., will not accept emergency patients for seven days. It is on an alternating schedule with the hospital in Wadena, Sask., in which one emergency room will be open for a week while the other is closed.

As a result, some extra ambulances will be directed to the All Nations' Healing Hospital, which has only two physicians on staff, said Edmund Bellegarde, a spokesman for the Fort Qu'Appelle facility.

From All Nations' Healing Hospital, Balcarres is about 20 kilometres away and Wynyard is about 110 kilometres away.

Physicians burning out

"It's just continuing to put strain on our emergency system and the ability for our doctors to respond," Bellegarde told CBC News.

"We're way beyond capacity in terms of what a doctor or physician should be having to deal with in terms of patient care, and we're burning out physicians left and right."

Bellegarde said the All Nations' Healing Hospital is working on recruiting more physicians in order to keep up with demand.

"We're already at that tipping point," he said. "We may have to shut down our emergency care services and start turning ambulances away."