Some hospitals in rural and Northern Manitoba are likely to experience ER closures or reduced hours this summer, perhaps more than ever before.
Whether you live in a rural or Northern community, or you have plans to travel in these areas, doctors want to ensure you are aware of potential closures or reduced hours and how to find emergency or urgent care when needed.
Be sure to plan ahead when in rural or Northern communities, and know what to do if someone needs emergency or urgent care. We’ve put together some advice below to help you.
With reduced ER hours and closures expected across the province, physicians want to ensure you are prepared. Below you will find advice from physicians about how to be ready, in the event you or someone around you needs urgent or emergency medical care.
FINDER hours and schedules. Be aware that some ERs are operating on reduced hours and some may be temporarily or permanently closed. Schedules can change with little notice. Check which health region you are in or will be in, and where the regional health authority posts current information about ER hours and closures (see links below).
KNOW how to call for emergency care. In most parts of Manitoba, you can call 911. In some smaller communities or parks, you may have to call a local number to get an ambulance.
UNDERSTANDthat doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health care staff are working incredibly hard to provide you or your loved ones with safe, high quality care as quickly as possible. Staffing shortages have become worse in some areas, causing closures, reduced hours and long waits for some services, including ambulances and in ERs.
If you or someone around you needs medical care, consider the following
If it is an emergency, call 911 or the local emergency number. Know your location, be with the person who needs help, and know the number you are calling from.
If it is urgent, go to the closest open ER or urgent care centre.
Consider alternate options for care in the area for non-urgent care, such as local doctors’ offices that accept walk-ins or appointments. You can also call Health Links Info Santé at 1−888−315−9257.
What you need to know when calling 911 (Source: Winnipeg EMS). A reminder to know your location (address, intersection or landmark), be with the person who needs help, know the number you are calling from and to remain calm.
This information is based on the best information available to Doctors Manitoba at the date noted below. Because closures can occur with short notice, Manitobans should seek out current information from local regional health authorities.
In a medical emergency, call 911 or the local emergency number.
Interlake / Eastern Manitoba
The Interlake-Eastern region has 12 hospitals, though only four have ERs that have been reliably open 24/7. Several others are open but face frequent or occasional closures. Some hospitals have ERs that are closed on a full-time basis.
The Southern region has 17 hospitals, but only eight have ERs that have been reliably open 24/7. There are five others that are open with part time hours. Some hospitals have ERs that are closed on a full-time basis.
For non-emergency services, please contact your primary care provider or the Medical Clinic near you or call Health Links – Info Santé at 1−888−315−9257.
Western Manitoba (Prairie Mountain Region)
The Prairie Mountain region of Western Manitoba has 30 hospitals, but only five have ERs that have been reliably open 24/7. There are ten others that are open with part time hours. Some hospitals have ERs that are closed on a full-time basis.
Hundreds of physicians work in rural and Northern communities providing a variety of high quality medical services. However, doctors have been increasingly concerned about maintaining health care in rural and Northern areas, due primarily to shortages in physicians, nurses and other health care workers.
Even before the pandemic, physician and staffing shortages were making it difficult to maintain services in some facilities, resulting in long waits, reduced hours, and closures. This problem has been exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A comprehensive plan to address the serious physician shortage in rural and Northern communities is needed. Doctors Manitoba partnered with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to review the issue, and developed a series of recommendations and actions to support recruitment and retaining more doctors. You can learn more here.
Of course, physician shortages are only part of the health care crisis in rural and Northern Manitoba. Shortages in nursing and allied health are also a challenge, and there needs to be better coordination of care for patients.