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March 26, 2009

Province Invests $5.7 Million to Strengthen Emergency Care

Commitment Will Deliver New Front-line Staff To Manitoba's Busiest Emergency Departments: Oswald

The province is building on its investments to strengthen emergency care with nearly $5.7 million in new funding for more front-line staff in Manitoba's busiest emergency rooms, additional
patient-focused renovations and the appointment of a new provincial advisor recognized for his track record of emergency-room (ER) innovation, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.

"Our government has increased funding to train more emergency-department doctors and nurses here in Manitoba and invested over $200 million to redevelop hospitals and emergency departments across the province," Oswald said. "Today, we're taking additional steps to deliver new front-line staff where they're needed most and to continue to find ways to ensure we're delivering the best emergency care we can."

The minister said new emergency-department positions will be created at six Winnipeg hospitals, in Brandon and at seven rural sites to ensure the province's busiest ERs will have more resources to help Manitobans with urgent health-care needs.

Winnipeg hospitals will receive $3.8 million. Additional overnight nurses will be hired at the Concordia, Grace, St. Boniface, Seven Oaks and Victoria hospitals. At the Health Sciences Centre, the busiest ER in the province, the funding will add overnight reassessment nurses.

"We have moved to improve emergency care by bringing in the changes called for by the Emergency Care Task Force and by working to enhance communication and processes involving our patients, but we know there is more we can do," said Jan Currie, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
vice-president and chief nursing officer. "The new positions announced today will help enhance our ability to care for patients around the clock and ensure we're able to place these professionals where they're needed most."

More than $1.4 million included in the funding package announced today will add new front-line positions in busy rural and northern emergency rooms including Selkirk, Portage, Boundary Trails, Flin Flon, The Pas, Thompson, Dauphin and Brandon. The province will support the regional health authorities to hire staff that will best meet the ER needs of their hospital and the region, the minister said.

"Selkirk Hospital has continued to see an increase in the number of patients coming to the emergency room, with 28,000 visits in 2008," said Kevin Beresford, CEO of the Interlake Regional Health Authority. "Additional front-line nursing and support staff will enhance our ability to provide quality patient care."

The minister also today announced that Dr. Ricardo Lobato de Faria has been appointed provincial advisor on emergency patient care. He will be tasked with exploring new ways to find pragmatic, best-practices solutions to improve emergency care in the province's busiest emergency departments. Lobato de Faria has a proven track record for ER innovation, overseeing significant improvements at the new Seven Oaks General Hospital emergency department that have improved patient care, decreased wait times and supported front-line staff. He will work with front-line staff at the busiest ERs in the province to find new ways to put patients first and improve emergency care, the minister said.

"Our emergency program is among the best resourced in the country, but we still need to engage front-line staff and health-care consumers in better organizing these resources to better meet needs and expectations of the public," said Lobato de Faria, who in addition to his new role is also head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Emergency Program and chief medical officer at Seven Oaks Hospital. "This will provide us with an opportunity to refocus our systems on the patient experience and help patients navigate this very complex system, often when they are most vulnerable."

Oswald noted emergency department renovations in two Winnipeg hospitals are set to begin, building on the redevelopment and expansions at Health Sciences Centre, Concordia Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital, Children's Hospital, the Brandon Regional Health Centre and several rural sites. A $500,000 renovation at St. Boniface Hospital, included in the new funding announced today, will increase patient visibility. This spring, the province will begin construction of a new emergency room at Victoria Hospital.

Oswald and the WRHA also said today a pilot project that added community-service workers at the Health Sciences Centre to better meet the needs of individuals who are homeless or have a mental illness will become permanent. The minister noted planning is underway for Canada's first mental-health emergency room, to be developed near the Health Science Centre, which will further strengthen supports for vulnerable people and Manitobans challenged by mental illness. New funding announced in the fall is further expanding registered psychiatric nurse positions to more Manitoba emergency rooms.

Further building on the government's commitment to deliver incentives to doctors to practice in rural and northern communities including rural emergency departments, Oswald announced today an additional $150,000 to the Medical Student and Resident Financial Assistance Program. Grants offered to new medical residents will increase to $25,000 from $15,000 in exchange for a dedicated return-of-service term in rural or northern Manitoba, a targeted approach aimed at directing new physicians to the rural communities where they are needed the most. The targeted investment announced today builds on the $4-million commitment announced last spring to bolster physician recruitment and retention initiatives provincewide.

The province's investments have expanded ER doctor training spaces to eight from five, the minister noted. Emergency rooms have been upgraded across the province and a number of additional initiatives are underway to strengthen ER care including:

  • creating a new emergency medicine department at the University of Manitoba;

  • increasing ER physicians' payment schedules in 2007 to recognize their critical role in patient care;

  • adding physician assistants to the front lines of emergency care; and

  • expanding the role of nurse practitioners across the province by providing funding for positions in emergency departments and primary-care settings.

Source: Manitoba Health

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