Countdown on for Concordia ER closure
Local group still hopes to keep ER open
“I’m worried what this will mean for the future of health care in the northeast.”
When it was first announced in April 2017 that the government planned to shut down Concordia’s ER in April 2018, Regier started the Facebook group Save the Concordia ER. A few months later, the group presented a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures to health minister Kelvin Goertzen.
“We didn’t get much of a response,” Regier said. “He was willing to meet with the group but there was no movement to their position.”
On May 31, the province announced their timeline for Phase 2 of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority health care overhaul. Goertzen said he understands that disruptions are inevitable if the system is to be improved.
“We’re not making the decisions on an emotional basis,” he said. “We’re looking at the evidence and the evidence is telling us that people are going to be better served.”
“When they made this announcement, we felt there was an opportunity to back down,” Matt Wiebe, MLA for Concordia, said of the government’s decision. “But this tells me they’re not backing down, they’re going full steam ahead.”
While Regier admitted that the government’s mind seems to be made up, he and the Save the Concordia ER group are still encouraging concerned residents to contact their local MLAs directly.
Since the closure was first announced in April 2017, Rossmere MLA Andrew Micklefield said he has received 100 emails from concerned constituents.
“Change is unsettling, I completely acknowledge that, but change does need to happen,” Micklefield said. “Our resources were spread too thin. I think people are catching on to that. Reforms are being rolled out and the early signs are good.”
“I was at Safeway yesterday and today in Transcona, and you get a mix of comments,” Blair Yakimoski, MLA for Transcona, told The Herald. “There is concern with the closure, , especially from seniors. But we need better health care and lower wait times. We have some walk-in facilities in this end of town that can help take the load off. Major trauma should be going to St. Boniface and (Health Sciences Centre) anyway.”
While the government intent on closing the ER at Concordia is clear, questions remain regarding what will be done with the space once the ER is closed.
“There’s a lot of potential,” Wiebe said. “People here are saying they want access to health care in their community. It doesn’t make any sense to me to close a facility seeing 30,000 people a year and servicing a massive, growing part of the city. It would make sense to keep it open in some capacity.”
“There will be more things happening at Concordia that are yet to be announced,” Yakimoski said. “It’s kind of ‘wait and see’ right now, but I think people will see improvement.”
In the meantime, Regier and the Save the Concordia ER group say they’ll continue pressing to keep the space open.
“The more time that Concordia ER is open, the better for people,” Regier said. “At the end of the day, we think this gives us a year to keep trying to change their mind.”