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Health agencies brace for demands of holiday season

Brandon Regional Health Centre is bracing for busy days ahead as local medical clinics close their doors or reduce their hours for the holidays.

Brian Schoonbaert, chief operating officer of the Brandon Regional Health Centre, said it’s normal this time of year for emergency room wait times to increase.

“It could be weather conditions, if it’s very icy ... otherwise it’s just mainly to do with people not having many other options of seeing a doctor so they’re coming into the ER,” he said. “Because of places being closed, we do have more people coming through so we do prepare for that.

“That doesn’t mean the waiting times go down, it just means we’re able to respond to a little bit of a higher volume.”

All medical walk-in clinics will be closed Wednesday, except for Richmond Avenue Medical Clinic, which will stay open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Thursday, Brandon Clinic West will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Newmount Medical Clinic from noon to 4 p.m. and Richmond Avenue Medical Clinic from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. All other local walk-in clinics will be closed that day.

On Friday, clinics will be open their regular weekday hours, but some clinics will be closed Saturday and Sunday.

While they don’t necessarily see a spike in calls over the holidays, Westman Crisis Services manager Allison Done said they get on average 30 calls on any given day.

“But we know a lot of our clients are more sad at Christmas time,” Done said. “Our mobile crisis unit (open 24 hours) will talk to people on the phone and help them make a plan to cope or help them get to a safe place if they really can’t cope and they’ll go out to see people right across this section of the province.”

For those finding themselves particularly down over the holidays, Done suggests thinking of Christmas like any other day.

“The anticipation of Christmas can be terrible but it’s 24 hours. If you can get through that 24 hours then usually you feel a little better,” she said.

New Year’s can also be a difficult time for people because a new year often brings with it lots of changes, she said.

Over the holidays, Done said it’s helpful to keep a routine, get enough sleep, refrain from consuming too much alcohol and find ways to be around other people.

“If people reach out, there’s usually something we can do to help them get through that day.”

The phone lines are also always open for people who just want to talk, she said.

“If people are just feeling blue or down and out and they’ve got nobody to talk to, they can call just to talk. There’s somebody there 24 hours.”

For more information about resources and crisis services, call Westman Crisis Services 24-hour hotline at 204-725-4411 or toll-free at 1-888-379-7699. Additional resources and services can be found by calling Community Health Services Brandon at 204-578-2400 or the 7th Street Access Centre at 204-578-4800.

» lenns@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 24, 2013

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Brandon Regional Health Centre is bracing for busy days ahead as local medical clinics close their doors or reduce their hours for the holidays.

Brian Schoonbaert, chief operating officer of the Brandon Regional Health Centre, said it’s normal this time of year for emergency room wait times to increase.

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Brandon Regional Health Centre is bracing for busy days ahead as local medical clinics close their doors or reduce their hours for the holidays.

Brian Schoonbaert, chief operating officer of the Brandon Regional Health Centre, said it’s normal this time of year for emergency room wait times to increase.

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