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Home » Media Releases » WRHA encourages the public to seek care for urgent and emergent health concerns

Media Release

WRHA encourages the public to seek care for urgent and emergent health concerns

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Thursday, April 30, 2020

With the eyes of the world focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, Winnipeggers are encouraged to continue seeking care for all urgent and emergent health concerns, whether or not they are related to symptoms of COVID-19.

The WRHA's network of health-care facilities and community services remains available to the public, including our emergency departments and urgent care centres, mental health services, home care, long-term care, and hospital in-patient care, among other services. Although some services have been scaled back or postponed as we seek to flatten the curve and lower the risk of transmission in our community, we would like to reassure patients that there is no need to avoid seeking treatment for urgent and emergency issues.

"Winnipeg, like many other jurisdictions across Canada and internationally, has seen a decrease in the number of visits to our emergency departments and urgent care centres since the first COVID case was declared in our community," said Vickie Kaminski, WRHA President and CEO. "There are likely several factors at play that are leading to this decrease in visits, but we want to make sure that people deliberately avoiding seeking care isn't one of them."

All Winnipeg hospitals have implemented measures to ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors, including restrictions on visitation, staff screening, requirements for personal protective equipment, social distancing and enhanced cleaning procedures. Hospitals remain open to serve the public, and anyone with urgent or emergent health concerns should not feel they need to stay away to preserve capacity for COVID-19 patients.

"We want Winnipeggers to know that it's safe to come to the hospital if you need to, and it is ok to come to the hospital if you need to," Kaminski said. "No one should feel bad or guilty for seeking care, and we don't want anyone to feel unsafe seeking care either."

Visits to Winnipeg emergency departments and urgent care centres were down by an average of 97 visits per day in March 2020, compared with the month before, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic arriving in Manitoba. That is a decrease of more than 11% (843 visits/day in Feb 2020 vs 746 in March 2020). Preliminary numbers suggest the trend towards lower patient volumes at emergencies and urgent care centres has continued into April 2020.

Similar to patient volumes, EMS (ambulance) arrivals and emergency/urgent care wait times were both down in March 2020 compared with February 2020, and with March 2019.

Winnipeggers are encouraged to call 911 for any life-threatening or emergent health concerns, or to visit one of the city's emergency departments or urgent care centres for urgent treatment of health issues.

Beyond seeking care for emergencies and urgent issues, people are also encouraged to stay in touch with their primary care providers (family doctors, nurse practitioners, etc.) and to maintain routine schedules for things like child vaccinations and prescription renewals if at all possible.

For more information, please contact:

WRHA Media Relations

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