Task force lists health care priorities: emergency services, access to care, senior housing and long-term care


The top three priorities, when it comes to changing and evolving health care in the southwestern region, have been identified by a focus group.

A comprehensive eight-page document, prepared by health care consultant Gordon Daman, has now been released.

The report comes after conferring for months with the Southwestern Manitoba Health Care Task Force on the upcoming changes to the way health care is to be delivered in the province in the future.

Last week the Killarney Guide published a story on some of the issues, after the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain – one of the nine southwestern municipalities and RMs who joined together to form the task force – voted unanimously to present the document to the Ministry of Health, Seniors, and Active Living.

Two municipalities did not support the recommendations: Cartwright-Roblin, and Deloraine Winchester.

Boissevain-Morton said they would vote on the recommendations later this week.

Only five municipalities were needed to vote yes in order to proceed with submission of the report, and six have voted yea.

The Task Force worked from the premise that health care requires a regional focus for the member municipalities, to help ensure sustainability for all 17,000 citizens in the catchment area, said the report.

The full document is available for reading in the online version of this story, by going to: killarneyguide.ca.

Briefly, here are some of the condensed details about the three priorities identified, and the task force’s recommendations, from the Southwestern Manitoba Health and Long-Term Care Task Force Final Report, dated December 8, 2017:

Priority #1 – Emergency Services

Recommendations include: concerns about EMS response time and coverage; the continued use of existing ambulance garages as satellite locations; satellite phones to be supplied in ambulances to cover inconsistent cell phone coverage in the region; reports on call coverage and response times for EMS; increased STARS air ambulance for the southwest region; patient transfer services by air not to be reduced in Deloraine or Killarney; that Shared Health move transports between facilities away from ambulance service to stretcher service; and that proposed ambulance station closures not take place until full time primary, intermediate, and/or advanced care paramedics are marshaled and in place.

Assistance from Manitoba Health is also being recommended for municipalities who wish to consider a First Responder service, reduced regulatory requirements for Level I EMT training, help with volunteer recruitment training costs, and assurance that first responder systems would be integrated into the 911 call system.

In communities facing ambulance station closures, capital fund grants are requested for first responder vehicle purchases.

Current ER services have shown to be 80 per cent (or more) urgent or non-urgent visits by patients, said the report, with around 20 per cent of those being emergent situations (acute illnesses, trauma).

The recommendations ask that Melita become an Urgent Care centre (upon completion of enhanced EMS services), and open 12 hours per day, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Killarney Hospital is also recommended to become an Urgent Care centre, open 24 hours per day.

Priority #2 – Access to Care

This includes the option for all municipalities to continue to have the choice of encouraging traditional medical clinics in their communities.

It also includes the request that Manitoba Health assist with the development of an Access Centre in Boissevain (in what is currently the Boissevain Health Centre), open five days a week, with health practitioners, X-ray service, plus transition and urgent care beds.

The recommendations add that MB Health assist with the development of a mobile Nurse Practitioner Unit in the Access Centre, with up to four nurse practitioners, who would have the mobility to carry out house calls. Their service focus would be on seniors, remote, and homebound patients.

Plus, the report requests that MB Health strikes a working group to investigate the feasibility of creating a Westman Regional Hospital over the next decade, as numerous health care facilities ‘age out.’ The catchment area for this hospital would be south of PTH #2 to the U.S. border, and all areas west of PTH #34 to the Saskatchewan border.

Priority #3 – Senior Housing and Long-Term Care

Particular attention for the ‘Aging in Place in Region’ commitment by the municipalities would put an emphasis on senior housing and long-term care, especially in the RMs of Brenda-Waskada, Cartwright-Roblin, Pipestone, Prairie Lakes, and Two Borders.

The report recommends that MB Health instructs Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) to provide a five-year notice period before shuttering any long-term care facilities that are nearing the end of their useful economic life.

Also, it recommends the strengthening of in-home supports, to allow seniors to remain at home beyond traditional home care, through a ‘funding follows resident’ system. This would include home care attendants, companion care, and nurse practitioner support through mobile delivery.

The report also calls for a strategic program of Assisted Living/Supported Housing. This could include the repurposing and devolution of PMH surplus assets to community assets.

Note: This is only a very brief review of the lengthy report, and does not include a number of other elements, goals, fiscal information, and details about the health care system and its parts.

Please click on the link below to view the complete report.

SW MB Task Force recommendations