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Doctor shortages force Minnedosa ER to close down

Emergency room services in Minnedosa will be suspended for a number of days over the holidays.

The emergency room will shutter for 96 hours as the hospital grapples with doctor shortages.

RM of Odanah Reeve Jim Andersen said it has been a challenge for Prairie Mountain Health to attract and retain doctors in the area.

“We don’t have any control over it,” Andersen said. “Prairie Mountain Health is responsible for looking at it and we’ve had three doctors leave Minnedosa in the last year for various reasons.”

A letter issued by PMH said the emergency room and all acute care services will be suspended two times.

The first closure will take place Saturday at 8 a.m. and run through the weekend, reopening Dec. 30 at 8 a.m. The next weekend, the ER will close again, from Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. until Jan. 6 at 8 a.m.

If there is a silver lining, it’s that the area is still covered by a strong ambulance service.

“It’s unfortunate, but it could have been worse,” Andersen said. “The good thing, if you want to call it that, is that we have a very good ambulance service in the area. If you have to call an ambulance because it’s an emergency, then they’ll know where to take you.”

With children taking part in winter activities over the break, such as skiing and skating, it’s not a good time to have services suspended.

“I know (that PMH) is trying to find replacements in the near future and the reality is that right now they don’t have the manpower to keep the emergency room going,” he said.

PMH CEO Penny Gilson said the physicians in Minnedosa are doing everything they can to keep the emergency room going 100 per cent of the time, but that sometimes, due to staffing levels, it has to be closed.

“We’re down to three docs in Minnedosa so when people take some time off during the holidays, we end up strapped,” Gilson said.

Doctor shortages are increasingly becoming the norm in the region.

Killarney, Boissevain and Deloraine are sharing on-call emergency services. Gilson said at all times there is one emergency room open between the three communities and sometimes there is two.

“We’re going to look at what we’re going to do along Highway 3 come February when another physician is set to leave Killarney,” Gilson said. “We will look at what’s the best possible scenario to deliver a consistent and predictable service to the public as we can.”

She said there are no plans to close emergency rooms.

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 24, 2013

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Emergency room services in Minnedosa will be suspended for a number of days over the holidays.

The emergency room will shutter for 96 hours as the hospital grapples with doctor shortages.

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Emergency room services in Minnedosa will be suspended for a number of days over the holidays.

The emergency room will shutter for 96 hours as the hospital grapples with doctor shortages.

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