Physicians have serious concerns about the stability of health care across rural and northern Manitoba. A new resource has been created to support Manitobans in accessing care this summer, when it is anticipated more hospitals than ever could have ER closures or reduced operating hours.
“Whether you live in rural or Northern Manitoba or you are planning to travel to communities in these areas, doctors want to support you with accessing needed medical care,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. “Our new public resource RuralCare.ca will help Manitobans be aware about how to access rural care, including how to plan ahead and what to do in a medical emergency.“
At RuralCare.ca, Manitobans will find a one-stop resource with information about rural and Northern ERs, including:
- Advice from physicians about how to plan ahead given the number of ERs with expected closures or reduced hours.
- Guidance about what to do during a medical emergency.
- The expected status of ERs this summer at all rural and northern hospitals, with links to find updated ER closure notices in each region.
“Depending on where you are in Manitoba, it can be difficult to find up-to-date local information about which ER is open, closed or has reduced operating hours,” explained Dr. David Cram, a physician from Souris Manitoba. “Please plan ahead using our resources at RuralCare.ca.” Dr. Cram added, “in all my years practicing medicine in rural Manitoba, I’ve never seen so many ERs closed or only open part time.“
Manitoba has 68 hospitals and health centres in rural and Northern communities:
- 27 (40%) ERs are anticipated to be open 24/7.
- 23 (34%) ERs are anticipated to operate part time, with reduced hours or temporary suspensions.
- 18 (26%) ERs have been closed for more than a year and are not expected to reopen this summer.
“Practicing medicine in rural Manitoba is unique and rewarding,” said Dr. Nichelle Desilets, a physician in Neepawa. “There are hundreds of physicians all working to offer high quality care because we are deeply committed to the rural and Northern communities we serve, but severe staffing shortages are making it difficult to maintain services in many hospitals right now.”
The RuralCare.ca resource was created with advice from a team of rural and Northern physicians. Doctors Manitoba will update the resource weekly over the summer to assist Manitobans with accessing medical care. Because closures can occur with short notice, Manitobans should seek out current information from local regional health authorities, and remember to call 911 or the local emergency number for a medical emergency.
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