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September 9, 2008

Women's Hospital Site Confirmed

New hospital, expanded maternal services at heart of new era of health care for Manitoba women: Oswald

Women's Hospital Site Confirmed

The province has confirmed a site directly across from the Winnipeg Children's Hospital as the location of a new state-of-the-art women's hospital, the centrepiece of a government commitment to open the door to a new era of health care for Manitoba women and babies, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.

The minister today also announced the province will expand midwifery positions and training and invest over $1 million in new supports for maternal and child-health services provincewide.

"We're not just building a new hospital, we're creating a new standard for maternal care in Manitoba," Oswald said. "We are committed to making the significant investments needed to ensure Manitoba women and their families have access to the very best care possible."

The new women's hospital at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Winnipeg will be located on the former Weston Bakeries site at the corner of Elgin Avenue and Sherbrook Street and will be directly connected to the Children's Hospital. The province will assume ownership of the Weston site at HSC under a land-transfer arrangement that will see Weston develop an expanded bakery on provincial land on Chevrier Boulevard.

Consistent with feedback gathered from the public and health-care professionals, the new hospital will offer contemporary, private rooms. The rooms will be considerably larger than traditional hospital rooms and will offer a home-like, safe and accessible environment with an emphasis on patient privacy.

"Overwhelmingly, the message we heard was that women want a contemporary, accessible, welcoming environment, whether they are in hospital to give birth or to undergo a surgical procedure," said Jan Currie, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority vice-president and chief nursing officer. "Private rooms with private bathrooms, as well as enough space for patients and their families is a priority as we move forward with the design of this important new facility."

The new hospital will employ leading-edge technology to expand the range of experts available to birthing centres in rural and northern Manitoba. It will build on a 24-hour video link between Thompson and the neonatal intensive care unit in Winnipeg, expanding the link to other rural and northern birthing facilities so experts in Winnipeg can actually see a patient who may need their help. The new hospital will also offer redesigned space dedicated to facilitating HSC's role as a teaching and academic centre.

Development of a functional plan for the new women's hospital is underway. Demolition of existing infrastructure will commence soon after the province assumes ownership of the site in October 2009.

Oswald also today announced 11 new midwife positions, bringing to
45 the number of publicly funded midwives in Manitoba. Since 1999, the province has invested more than $28 million in midwifery services including more midwifery positions and the establishment of a university degree program in midwifery at University College of the North. The minister said today the province is continuing to move forward on further expanding midwifery training into southern Manitoba and noted that planning continues for a birthing centre in south Winnipeg.

The province also today confirmed it will implement all of the recommendations from the Maternal and Child Health Services
(MACHS) Task Force
, which was established by the minister of health in March 2007. The task force made 20 recommendations and suggested 25 initiatives to build on the maternal and child health-care services available in Manitoba.

The minister also today announced the province is investing $1.1 million to implement 13 immediate priorities identified by the MACHS Task Force to help strengthen both primary care and prevention services by addressing gaps in current services and supporting access to improved services closer to home.

Dr. Brian Postl, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) and co-chair of the MACHS Task Force, said the recommendations address a number of challenges facing many mothers-to-be including accessing services close to home or getting the necessary supports when they are forced to leave their home communities.

"The task force focused on practical solutions, where change can be seen and measured," Postl said. "The task force members are pleased that government has decided to act so quickly after receiving the report."

Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, medical director of the WRHA Child Health Program, said implementation of the task force recommendations will further work already done toward an integrated and accessible health care network for Manitoba children.

"This will clearly have a very positive impact on the health and health outcomes of the infants, children and youth of Manitoba," Greenberg said.

Read full task force report


- Source: Manitoba Health

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