The Minnedosa Health Centre is the most recent hospital to lose full-time emergency room and acute care services on a consistent basis, according to Prairie Mountain Health’s CEO.
Penny Gilson said Minnedosa will lose the services on the weekend.
The schedule will close the ER and acute care services on Saturdays at 8 a.m. until Monday at 8 a.m., beginning Feb. 15.
Originally the hospital was set to close this weekend as well, but a locum physician was located, restoring service.
Gilson said a lack of resources is the cause for the closures.
“As a result of physician vacancies and another physician currently on leave we are down to two physicians in Minnedosa who are able to participate in the on-call rotation,” Gilson said.
While the two physicians are working together to ensure services aren’t lost during the week, the weekend is subsequently unstaffed.
Minnedosa is one of four communities in PMH that will receive an international medical graduate (IMG). The new doctor is set to begin practising in the community as early as April, but it could still be months before the services are restored, if at all.
“We are sending more resources to Minnedosa, but whether that results in our ability to cover ER 24-7, I don’t know until we sit down with the new doctor,” Gilson said.
PMH is advertising for another family physician to come to the area via its website.
The health authority is also trying to secure more locums to bridge service gaps until the international doctors arrive.
“The reality is that there isn’t a lot of locums to come by right now,” Gilson said.
Killarney, another community that has dealt with ER closures, will also receive an IMG.
Dr. Sushma Sudigala, from India, is scheduled to start practising in March.
This November, Killarney secured a locum on a .25 position, according to Gilson.
Dr. Samuel Smal, who operates a family practice in Winnipeg, travels to Killarney and takes patients at the Tri Lake Health Centre every fourth week.
Smal worked in Gillam for eight years prior to transitioning to Winnipeg.
While Minnedosa is closer to both Brandon and Winnipeg, where most locums come out of, than Killarney, it is still a challenge finding doctors who are willing to fill in.
“We continue to try to secure locums to cover, and not just for Minnedosa but for other sites across Prairie Mountain Health,” Gilson said. “It really varies. You might think it’s easier to find locums for Minnedosa (because of it’s proximity to Brandon), but that’s not the case.”