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Questions & answers

Why call 911? Won’t it be faster if I drive?

An ambulance ride provides more than a fast trip to the emergency department. In most cases of medical emergency, such as stroke, diabetic emergencies or heart attack, it is essential that the patient receive appropriate medical treatment immediately. Paramedics provide constant monitoring of a patient and can deliver lifesaving medical care should a patient’s condition deteriorate on the way to the hospital.

Paramedics also assess the patient and help match them with the best facility to provide care specific to the patient’s condition.

Even with the time needed to reach a patient, in cases of actual life-threatening conditions, ambulances will almost always get someone to the hospital faster than if they were driven by the public. Emergency vehicles have the right-of-way on roadways when using emergency lights and sirens which allow them to safely and quickly bypass traffic and navigate through intersections.

How can going from six to three emergency departments result in better care?

Services are spread too thinly across six emergency departments right now. Having three emergency departments will allow us to concentrate our specialists and diagnostic services in fewer facilities, resulting in better access and shorter wait times.

What happens to the hospitals that no longer have emergency departments?

Each of Winnipeg's six hospitals will have a distinct, unique role in delivering specialized services, making it easier to provide the right care at the right place at the right time. For example, Victoria Hospital will add 50 beds for inpatient mental health services. Concordia Hospital will assume more orthopedic surgery and continue to specialize in hip and knee replacements. Seven Oaks Hospital will focus on renal services, rehabilitation for the elderly and will be the go-to centre for elective endoscopy.

Knowing that one of the greatest pressures on health care is an aging Baby Boomer population, how do these changes affect the elderly?

We are focusing care for the elderly at three sites. We are also creating an enhanced home care services program to allow more than 1,200 patients each year to transition home for recovery after they've been in hospital. The goal would be to keep more people at home longer with appropriate health care support but, if they need to go into a personal care home, they can do so more often from home. This program will also support high-risk patients in the community who would otherwise rely on emergency departments for care.

Will these changes result in fewer hospital beds?

It's not about a gain or loss of hospital beds, it's about moving those care spaces about in the system and organizing them differently. When services are concentrated at any one site, the bed capacity will accompany that increased concentration of services.

Changing the way we approach bed management also means that we will use beds more appropriately and be better equipped to handle a surge of patients should there be a busy weekend or flu in the emergency department that requires additional beds to be brought in.

How will people know which hospital to go to if they need help?

We'll be working to communicate the changes with our staff and the public to let people know where to go. For example, if your illness or injury is life threatening call 911. Paramedics will take you to an emergency department. If an illness or injury needs immediate attention but is not life-threatening - like a broken ankle - go to one of the 24/7 Urgent Care centres at Seven Oaks or the Victoria.

When will these changes start to happen?

We expect the urgent care centres will be the first to transition, starting this fall followed by the opening of the new ED at Grace Hospital in the spring of the New Year. Others will be over the next six to 24 months.

Won't it cost more money to make these changes than it will save?

No. Evidence from other provinces and from trials in our own region have proven that this approach is the best way forward in healing our health system for this and future generations and will be more cost effective.

Will any healthcare workers lose their jobs as a result of these changes? How many?

We have committed to government to reduce management positions by 15 per cent. We will be working to fulfill that commitment throughout the coming months. We believe there will be jobs for everybody who wants one. There will be movement throughout the system. Some positions will be deleted and some will be moved to different sites but any front line staff person who wishes to remain with the WRHA will be able to do so.

Click here for a summary of hospital and health centre roles at a glance - but keep in mind, these changes don't take effect immediately. They'll take anywhere from six to 24 months to complete.