The Emergency Department at Ste. Anne Hospital is closed for the next two weeks.

The closure takes effect Friday, February 16th. It will re-open on Friday, March 1st at 8 am.

Dr. Denis Fortier is Chief Medical Officer for Southern Health-Sante Sud. He says the temporary closure is the result of health human resources.

"In other words, not enough physicians," explains Dr. Fortier. "We chose to reduce the Emergency Department and close it down for two weeks to offer the few physicians that are doing the Emergency Department shifts some time to breathe and take some much needed vacation."

Dr. Fortier says the expectation is that the closure will only last two weeks and that the Emergency Department will reopen on March 1st. He notes it is then that some of the vacation time ends and there should be physicians able to take some shifts again. 

"We continue to work very, very hard with the physician team there to find ways to find and hire new physicians to support that team there in Ste. Anne," he says. 

Dr. Fortier says he will not speculate on whether this two-week closure is a sign of things to come.

"The situation is fairly dire, not just in Ste. Anne but in many, many of our sites across Southern Health and across this province," he says. 

According to Dr. Fortier, sometimes it just takes one staff member to get sick, go on vacation, or take a leave of absence to disrupt their ability to offer services. He notes this can be for primary care, their Emergency Department, or other hospital work. As a result, Dr. Fortier says it can be a day-by-day effort to ensure they have enough nurses and physicians to do the work. 

"When we see that it starts getting very difficult to do that, and it's also difficult on the remaining staff to do that, we have to make some difficult decisions to curtail services," he adds. 

And, he says their desire is that any closure is temporary. Dr. Fortier says with the multiple efforts that are being made to recruit, he is hopeful that the situation will resolve itself over the coming months or even years. 

In the meantime, Dr. Fortier says many people continue to go to the Emergency Department for things that are not urgent. He notes they strongly encourage people to call their family physician. With the Emergency Department closure in Ste. Anne, Dr. Fortier says there may be some provisions made so that there are extra openings. Other options are the QuickCare Clinic in Steinbach, Health Links or QDoc. He points out that there are also Emergency Departments in Steinbach and St. Pierre or walk-in clinics in Winnipeg. 

Emergency Department at Ste. Anne Hospital

Meanwhile, back in November, the regional health authority announced that they would suspend obstetrical services at Ste. Anne Hospital for approximately six months. This is also due to a physician shortage. Dr. Fortier says they are very much hoping to recruit enough physicians to be able to reopen obstetrics. However, he notes that situation is a little more complicated.

"Not every physician is skilled (in obstetrics) or wants to do obstetrics and so we knew that was going to take a little bit longer," he explains. 

Dr. Fortier notes the hope is still that by spring or summer they will be in a position to consider the reopening.