Media release

WRHA provides timeline for change

Victoria Hospital, Misericordia Health Centre see first changes this fall

June 14, 2017 - Building upon previously announced broad changes, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority today provided a detailed update on progress towards the consolidation of health care services, with improved quality and timeliness of patient care at the forefront.

When compared to the national average in key measurements such as emergency room wait times, lengths of stay and access to diagnostics and specialty services, Winnipeg's health care system consistently falls behind its counterparts in other regions of Canada. The changes announced in April 2017 closely follow the recommendations of independent consultant Dr. David Peachey's Clinical and Preventive Services Planning for Manitoba study, on the allocation and delivery of health care services.

“Despite having more hospital beds, more personal care home beds and more health care spending than other similarly sized jurisdictions," said Lori Lamont, vice president and chief nursing officer. “We know that Winnipeggers experience some of the longest Emergency Department wait times in Canada - up to five hours to see an emergency physician, which is the longest wait of all 25 health organizations that annually report data to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. As well, their in-patient length of stay in hospital is 23 per cent longer than the national average."

In the weeks since the reconfiguration of the health system was announced, a detailed implementation plan has been in development, aimed at addressing those challenges while delivering safe, quality patient care.

To support that patient focus, a number of open staff forums have taken place at each health care site to educate front line staff about the details of the plan, to enable them to ask questions and offer feedback. In total, about 3,000 staff members took part in this initial phase of staff engagement, with additional forums in administrative support areas and community service offices to follow in the coming weeks. These staff forums will be an ongoing element of the implementation and will occur regularly as changes take place.

An emphasis has also been placed on ensuring active engagement with union leaders. This permits information sharing and allows for dialogue about the staffing impact of consolidation within the context of collective agreements. These meetings will be ongoing and are slated to continue monthly.

“There is widespread agreement that the current system - marked by excessive wait times, frequent medical transfers between hospitals and limited physician resources spread across too many sites - is in need of change if it is to become more effective, efficient and sustainable over the long term," said Lamont. “While this plan is based on a wealth of research or best practices and has been successful in other jurisdictions, we acknowledge that change can be difficult. We are committed to providing regular updates to patients and staff in order to help Manitobans understand why these changes are necessary and how they will deliver a better health system."

Today's update revealed the implementation timeline relative to the first phase of the plan, with the following changes taking place in October 2017:

To prepare for these changes and to ensure capacity is created in other areas of the health system prior to any changes to Victoria Hospital Emergency Department or Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, the following will occur over the summer and early fall of 2017:

Phase II changes will occur in spring/summer, 2018 and the public will be kept informed as to the changes that may be expected. They include:

A focus on sustainability has already begun to show improvements across the system. Savings so far include:

Ensuring patients, their families, staff and sites have the information they need to understand the changes and make appropriate care decisions is also an important part of the Healing our Health System plan. A public education campaign was launched when the plan was announced in April 2017 but was temporarily suspended during the provincial by-election blackout period.

Going forward, education and awareness materials will be back in the public realm to assist patients in understanding how these changes will impact them. This includes an online component with an interactive map indicating where services are available and when and how changes are taking place. Sites will also be provided with materials, such as an interactive map to share with patients about changes taking place specific to hospitals and health centres.

For more information, contact:

Bronwyn Penner-Holigroski
(p) 204-926-7868
(e) bpennerholigroski@wrha.mb.ca

Anne Bennett
(p) 204-926-7178
(e) abennett4@wrha.mb.ca