Lower wait times among highlights for WRHA a year after ER closures

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is touting some of the improvements made in the system in the past year.A year ago Wednesday, the Misericordia’s Urgent Care Centre closed and the ER at Victoria Hospital was changed to an Urgent Care Centre.Those changes were part of the first phase of the health care overhaul in Manitoba.READ MORE: A man was ignored to death in an ER 10 years ago. It could happen again.
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Lori Lamont, acting Chief Operating Officer at the WRHA, said the changes have had an overall positive impact on local healthcare.“We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made so far,” Lamont told 680 CJOB.“The changes were about really looking at how our system was organized and how it functioned, and making changes that allowed us to reinvest in some services and strengthen services so that they could actually provide better quality care and more timely care to people in the system.“I think one of the things that often gets overlooked in changes we’ve made are the investments in services for older adults or people with chronic illnesses. We know that’s a growing part of our population.”Lamont said this year has seen record low numbers of people in hospital beds waiting for long-term care, as well as empty capacity in personal care home systems.There’s also been a reduction in hospital wait times. While they fluctuate month to month, Lamont said the WRHA is also seeing a positive trend.“What we’ve seen overall is an ongoing downward trend in what was about two hours to about 1.6, 1.5 hours. We still have more improvement to go, but that’s a bigger improvement than we’ve ever seen in our system.”READ MORE: Closing Winnipeg’s Misericordia urgent care will cost system more, doctors sayThe next steps in the overhaul of the system will see more closures of emergency departments, including at Concordia Hospital, which is expected to close in June of 2019.Lamont said the WRHA has partnered with a local physician group to provide a walk-in connected care centre, which means health services for minor injuries and illnesses will remain in the neighbourhood.

Lori Lamont of the WRHA.

Lori Lamont of the WRHA.Timm Bruch / Global News“We’ll also be making other changes as to where certain surgeries are provided, and we’ll be moving the mental health services from Seven Oaks and the Grace Hospital to the newly-renovated units at Victoria Hospital before the end of this year,” she said.“While the emergency departments are often the focus of what we’ve been talking about, it really is about redesigning and consolidating services so we can improve the quality of them.”WATCH: Hundreds of patients notified of air quality issue at Misericordia Hospital