A union representing support staff at Seven Oaks General Hospital is calling on the Manitoba government to halt the upcoming closure of the hospital’s emergency department, before “disruptive and demoralizing” filling of positions based on seniority begins.
Debbie Boissonneault, president of CUPE 204, described the move as a “bumping” process, through which employees choose new staff rotations. First choices are offered to senior staff, and younger workers may be left out.
That process is expected to start on Monday. The ER at Seven Oaks is scheduled to convert to an urgent care centre this September, despite sustained pressure from northwest Winnipeg residents who argue the ER should remain open.
“Once we go down this path, it will be very difficult to turn back time, and with morale so low we are very concerned for the well-being of our members,” Boissonneault said in a letter issued Wednesday to Health Minister Cameron Friesen.
‘A bad plan’ made worse: CUPE
Residents hoped the ER would be saved when Dr. David Peachey was hired to review the second phase of Winnipeg’s hospital reorganization plan — a reorganization launched by the province in 2017, based on Peachey’s initial recommendations.
However, Peachey’s Phase 2 review recommended continuing with the ER closures, including the Seven Oaks conversion.
He said, however, the timeline for changes should be based on further risk assessment.
Peachey’s report said the sustainability of Seven Oaks’ ER is at risk because emergency department staff are seeking work elsewhere in the months before the conversion.
The same staffing woes prompted the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to expedite the closure of Concordia Hospital’s ER — also converted to an urgent care centre — by three weeks.
“By continuing on the path of closing the Seven Oaks ER and [intensive care unit], this government is only going to make a bad plan worse,” Boissonneault said in a release.
“The government has an opportunity to prevent further chaos in the system by doing the right thing and cancelling the plan to close the Seven Oaks ER.”
The province’s health minister has previously said hiring Peachey demonstrates the government is listening to concerns and willing to make adjustments when needed.
He argued the province must continue to overhaul a health-care system plagued by long wait times.