April 7, 2017

Broad improvements for health care in Winnipeg

Consolidation of health centres builds on excellence

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) today announced broad changes aimed at improving the quality of health care and strengthening the system that provides it.

“Right now, many patients wait too long for care, stay too long in hospital, or need to visit multiple sites to get the care they need,” said Milton Sussman, WRHA President and CEO. “With this announcement we begin the process of healing our health system, taking important steps that focus squarely on our patients. Both significant and sensible, these changes address systemic challenges that have hindered quality care and taxed our resources.”

Central to the plan is consolidation of services at specific sites to capitalize on their strengths, position them to deliver improved quality and timeliness of care, and permit the concentration of valuable resources, such as diagnostic services and specialty physician consultation, currently spread over multiple sites.

Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living Kelvin Goertzen added, “We know these changes will not be easy but are necessary; our current system isn’t delivering the quality of care that our patients and their families deserve, and we have to act. Evidence from other jurisdictions and from recent reports and research in our own region support this system transformation and its intent to better our health system and improve the quality of care.”

The WRHA lags behind the national average on a number of key indicators, including wait times in Emergency Departments and in-patient length of stay. Changes the region is making align with independent consultant Dr. David Peachey’s recommendations in the recently released Clinical and Preventive Services Planning for Manitoba study commissioned in 2015, on how health care services are delivered and allocated.

Dr. Peachey’s report represents hundreds of hours of consultations with community representatives, Regional Health Authority leadership and staff, unions and associations, Indigenous organizations, clinical leaders in all major specialties across the province and other important stakeholders, all aimed at identifying major opportunities to improve care

“Cities such as Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa have fewer emergency departments per capita yet have shorter wait times than Winnipeg. Clearly, more is not better,” Dr. Peachey said. “Three Emergency Departments will allow the WRHA to provide more focused and specialized care.”

Karen Dunlop, Chair of the WRHA Board of Directors, which unanimously approved the plan, echoed the need to address fundamental challenges within the system. “We have to shorten wait times for admission from Emergency Departments and key diagnostic tests and consultations, bring patient lengths of stay in line with national averages and better address mental health and elder care needs in the community. Today we take the first steps towards transformation that is both fundamental and necessary.”

Key Changes:

  • Emergency and acute health services consolidated at three sites: Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and Grace Hospital.
  • Two urgent Care Centres, for cases that are serious but not-life-threatening, located at Seven Oaks Hospital in the north side of the city and Victoria Hospital in the south.
  • Specialized areas of focus for Winnipeg’s community hospitals and health centres aimed at providing the right care in the right place at the right time.
    • Concordia Community Hospital – will continue to offer specialty care in orthopedics and will also offer geriatric rehabilitation services and transitional care for patients waiting to get into personal care homes.
    • Seven Oaks Community Hospital – will continue to offer specialty care in out-patient renal services and will also offer an emphasis on elective endoscopy procedures as well as rehabilitation and transitional care for older patients.
    • Victoria Community Hospital – will continue to offer specialty care in day surgery and expanded in-patient mental health services to support a growing need in our community. In addition, the hospital will focus on offering mental health services to older patients in geriatric mental health.
    • Deer Lodge Centre – will continue to offer specialty care in geriatric rehabilitation, chronic care and long term personal care. Deer Lodge will receive enhanced capacity for special needs residents which includes care for those with dementia.
    • Misericordia Health Centre – will continue to specialize in eye surgery and treatment, long term and interim care for the elderly along with respite care. The Urgent Care Centre will be repurposed to accommodate an expanded community intravenous therapy clinic.
    • Riverview Health Centre – will continue to specialize in dementia care, respite services and respiratory chronic care and will continue their work in the important area of Alzheimer’s care.

In addition to improving the quality and timeliness of care, the transformation is intended to create sustainability, balancing the region’s budget for 2017/18 and laying the groundwork for more effective management of resources.

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