A hospital in rural Manitoba has been forced to suspend its inpatient services and admissions next month due to nursing shortages.
Advocates say it is a scary situation that will happen more often if the province doesn’t take swift action.
Residents who require hospital admission or inpatient care in Grandview next month won’t be getting it at their local hospital.
A spokesperson for Prairie Mountain Health confirmed the Grandview Health Center is temporarily suspending its inpatient services and hospital admissions in December. Patients who need hospital admission during this time will be transferred to a neighboring facility.
While emergency department services will continue, they will be limited to only three or four days a week. A schedule for the emergency department will be posted on the Prairie Mountain Health website.
“It is a significant concern to the region to have reduced services in Grandview and there is ongoing work to recruit to the site,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CTV News.
The spokesperson said the hospital has only four nursing positions currently filled, out of the total 14 positions needed. During the month of December, the rural hospital will only have two nurses.
They said one of their doctors is also moving to Roblin at the end of next month, leaving only one other physician providing services.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, president of Doctors Manitoba, who said it is a scary situation for residents who will need to drive to Dauphin or Roblin for care.
“I think we’re still early in seeing a lot of these play out and my heart goes out to everyone who’s scared and feeling like there’s no end in sight to this.”
MANITOBA PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE SKYROCKETING, DOCTORS MANITOBA SAYS
Bradshaw said this is the result of an ongoing physician shortage that Manitoba has been struggling with for around two decades.
“The physician shortage is continuing to skyrocket, and it’s now bigger than ever,” she said.
Recent data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information show Manitoba’s physician shortage grew by 13 per cent last year.
This leaves Manitoba with one of the lowest number of physicians per capita in Canada, with only 217 per 100,000 residents.
Bradshaw said Manitoba would need to bring 405 more doctors to the province to reach the Canadian average of 246 physicians per 100,000 residents.
“Without a big change, the physician shortage is projected to get even worse in the short term,” Bradshaw said.
‘TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE’: DOCTORS MANITOBA CALLS FOR ACTION
She said provinces, including BC and Alberta, have recruiters who reach out to physicians and come up with strong recruitment packages.
However, Bradshaw said Manitoba is far behind.
“It’s just year after year after year not really putting any effort into this, having our physicians scooped up by greener pastures,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t turn it around, but time is of the essence. This cannot continue to go on without action.”
She said some of the ideas Doctors Manitoba has submitted to help with the shortage include creating a more streamlined recruitment strategy or agency and finding a way to alleviate administrative paperwork – much of which she said is redundant and useless.
Bradshaw said Doctors Manitoba has submitted these ideas to the province, but she said it has been two weeks and they have not received any concrete plan of action.
Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon told reporters the province is still reviewing the Doctors Manitoba recommendations. She said her department is committed to moving the recommendations forward, and continuing the recruitment efforts underway.
“We’re committed to all of the incentives that were part of the news release, and more. We are going to need to continue those discussions,” Gordon said. “It is our commitment as a government to ensure all of these incentives are followed through.”
As for the situation in Grandview, Gordon said, “There is a commitment to ensure that location stays open and that the suspension of inpatient unit beds is very short term.”
She said action is needed now, because if the province doesn’t turn things around, “It won’t just be Grandview closing their hospital for a month. It will be more and more places.”