Monday evening the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre was closed. Tuesday, when I went by what used to be the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, the closed sign was up.
But the messaging as to where to go was anything but clear.
First of all, as the WRHA have argued for a long while - urgent care is different from Emergency Care and different from primary care. Thus logically, patients seeking urgent care should be now referred to the new urgent care centre at Victoria Hospital. Indeed, as the sign above shows this is happening. Yet, this does not make sense for most. 65% of the people in West Broadway do not have cars. It is a two to three hour walk from the Misericordia to the Victoria Hospital depending on how fast you walk. If you take a bus there are several transfers. The whole logic of the decision to close the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre was and is faulty. The WRHA argued that they only need two urgent care centres for all of Winnipeg, and now it is obvious that few people who would have gone to the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre are likely to go to the Victoria Hospital Urgent Care.
Even Ms Lori Lamont seemed to concede that people who would be going to the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, but can no longer do so, would likely make other choices than the Victoria Hospital. She spoke to the CBC on Monday morning. She mentioned that people could go to a primary care centre. And yet she forgot to mention that the WRHA is closing the Corydon Primary Care Centre, which is the nearby primary care centre. So much for that option!!! Why have the PCs targetted the elimination of both centres in one area of Winnipeg? And particularly when it is an area with many vulnerable people.
The other option Ms Lamont mentioned was the Emergency Room at the Health Sciences Centre. But this is an Emergency Room not an Urgent Care Centre. For a long time the WRHA has been asking people with an urgent care problem, to use an Urgent Care Centre instead of clogging up an Emergency Room. The WRHA has said repeatedly - if you have an urgent care problem and not an Emergency Care problem, go to an urgent care centre. That advice is now looking silly as the WRHA changes its approach and is now sending urgent care patients to the Health Sciences Centre Emergency Room. It would have made far more sense to keep the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre open and divert urgent care patients there instead the reverse.
There is one bright spot on the horizon. The many of us who have fought to save the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, have won a partial victory - Misericordia will continue to have an eye urgent care centre which is open 24 hours. This is consistent with having an eye care centre of excellence at Misericordia, as it has the Buhler Eye Care Centre. The government’s initial intent was to completely close the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, but they have, following pubic pressure from many people, including myself, decided to keep the eye urgent care part operating. The important message is if you have an eye problem, including during the night, then the Misericordia Health Centre is the place to go. They have the best expertise in this area of anywhere in the province. This centre of excellence has been preserved because so many people came forward and because it made sense. It is important that the centre is known about and used, and it is very disappointing that the government has quickly taken down the general urgent care signs, but has been slow to put up the “eye urgent care” signs. What is up with this? More messing around and dilly dallying over an important item by the PC government?
I suspect that the government and WRHA may, in a few months, see the mistake in what they have done and reopen the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre. So, everyone, keep the pressure on for the PC government and the WRHA to have not just a partial urgent care centre (just for eye problems), but a full urgent care centre at Misericordia which is what we really need.