Walk-in Clinic Won’t Cut it for Northeast Winnipeg
Published in The Herald By: Sheldon Birnie
It was announced on June 13 that a “walk-in connected care clinic” will partially replace the emergency room at Concordia Hospital after the ER closes in June 2019.
“Concordia will continue to be a critically important part of health care system, and I believe in the future an even more important part,” health minister Kelvin Goertzen said at the announcement. “We will be opening a connected care clinic next summer to serve residents who needs same day health care service here.”
“About half people who currently come to ER will be very well served by clinic,” said Lori Lamont, acting chief operating officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
The clinic, which will be similar to the new walk-in connected care clinic at Grace Hospital, is expected to open shortly after the ER closes in June 2019. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., though its hours could change down the line, depending on demand.
Local MLAs James Teitsma (Radisson), Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere), Cathy Cox (River East), and Blair Yakimoski (Transcona), all from the PC caucus, also attended the announcement, along with Val Wiebe, president and chief operating officer of Concordia Hospital, and Dr. Ainslie Mihalchuk, chief medical officer for Concordia Hospital.
“The MLAs behind me told me about the feedback they’ve heard from residents, which is that they wanted a place to go to get things with their family or themselves looked at,” Goertzen said. “We’ve listened, and we’ve listened to the wait times task force.”
However, NDP MLA Matt Wiebe (Concordia) felt this was only half-true.
“The community has made its voice heard,” Wiebe said. “The community wants 24-7 access to health care in their community.”
Andy Regier, one of the organizers of the Save the Concordia ER group, agreed with Wiebe.
“We started the coalition to fight for 24-7 access to emergency care,” Regier said. This announcement just doesn’t get us there. It feels like a band-aid solution to a major issue here in northeast Winnipeg.”
“They’re throwing us a bone here, but it’s pretty clear that local MLAs are starting to squirm,” Wiebe added. “We need to keep up pressure as a community on this government. We want the ER open.”
Wiebe said there are already three walk-in clinics within walking distance of Concordia Hospital, and that adding another will not address the needs of local residents.
“They’re asking for a level of care beyond what a walk in clinic provides,” he said.
Both Goertzen and Lamont stressed the “connected” nature of the clinic, which will be staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care staff.
“Connected care is really an important improvement in primary care system,” Lamont said. “Too often, people seek care in multiple places, and then there isn’t a consistent plan or consistent information shared with that person to address their health needs in the best way.”
“It’s important to me we continue to provide same day health care services to this community,” added Mihalchuk, who is also the president of the Manitoba College of Family Physicians. “Walk-in connected care will make most of one time visits by connecting back to primary care when appropriate.”
The new clinic will only use 3,800 square feet of the space currently occupied by the ER. Goertzen would not comment on what those plans consist of.
“There are other plans to further enhance Concordia, but we’re not at a place to announce those today,” he said.