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Neepawa Health Care Check up - the need for a new regional hospital

May 1, I was in Neepawa as part of our public consultations on the status of Health Care in Manitoba.  There is a major concern over Health Care in Manitoba at the moment, in part because the Pallister PCs have been making major changes and these are causing concern, uncertainty and low morale within the health care system.

In each of our public meetings as part of our effort to see where health care is at, we asked several questions.  1) What is working well?   This question is important because the starting place for improving our health care system is understanding what is working well.  Items that fall in this category need to be supported and indeed built upon and used as models of good care to improve the system. 2) What is not working?   This is an important question because it identifies where there are problems which need to be understood and addressed to improve the system. 3) Where do we need to invest? This is a critical question because it identifies areas which will need additional funding in order to correct the deficiency.  4) What is needed to improve or restore trust in Health Care in Manitoba.   We are asking this question because we have found too many people are losing or have lost trust in Manitoba's health care system.  5) What is your vision for health care in the Neepawa region 10, 20 or 30 years from now?

Thank you to all who attended our public forum in Neepawa. We had a good discussion at our meeting.   A brief summary of the comments made at the meeting is provided below:  It is not exhaustive.  A more complete report will come when we have finished our public meetings;

What is working well?
-  The CancerCare Manitoba outreach centre in Neepawa works well and provides excellent service. 
-   Dr. Harris in Winnipeg who helped patients with various forms of cancer, would make a tape of the conversation she had with a patient.  A person could then play it back when at home and make sure everything was understood.   This was particularly helpful when a patient went to see Dr Harris by himself or herself, because the family could then review it when the patient arrived home.  This was described as being very valuable.  Dr. Harris was also recognized for recommending creams which dramatically reduced radiation burns.
-  Palliative care is excellent in Neepawa.   The coordinator is a paid position and the view is that this makes a difference, because in some areas the coordinator is a volunteer position.
-  Neepawa has done well in recruiting physicians, though more are still needed.  
-  There is a very good anesthetist
-   Medical students coming to Neepawa is seen as positive.
-   Very good eye care in Minnedosa

What is not working?
- New staff don't always know what is available or how to access it.   Improved orientation for new staff is needed. 
- Information on health equipment which patients need to purchase always focuses on the most expensive equipment.  There is a need for better access to high quality devices which have been used and are less expensive. 
-  The heating system in the Neepawa hospital is atrocious.   In winter the temperature in parts of the hospital can be very cold. 
-  Quality of care in the Emergency Room is variable depending on who is no call.   One participant in the forum described an unacceptable wait of 5 hours for a child who was vomiting. 
-  Home care is "iffy" sometimes.  There needs to be greater flexibility to meet the needs of patients.  It is better when the same person comes and there is consistency in service.   One person called for home care and is still waiting 2 years later.   If a person delivering home care is not coming it is important to let the person receiving the care know so that they are not waiting for care which is not coming.
-  Improvements in mental health care are needed.   There is not good psychological or psychiatric service in Neepawa.  There is too much bullying in the schools and mental health support is needed to reduce this and to help those who are affected.
-  Centralization of pharmacy services in Winnipeg for the personal care home is not working. 
-  People are tired of the current PC government just blaming others. It is seen as a very childish approach.  They want to look forward not back. 

Where do we need to invest and improve our health care system? 
-  A new regional hospital is needed for the Neepawa area. 
-  More investment in brain and mental health care is needed.
-  A dialysis unit is needed.
-  Assisted living is needed in Neepawa.  With a facility in Neepawa, five or six people presently in the hospital could be housed there now.   We heard that there are at least 8 people from Neepawa in assisted living in Brandon.   There should be the possibility of them staying in their home community.   There is currently, in Neepawa, a problem in seniors, who are tired of cooking for themselves, getting access to good meals.   A combination of senior's housing and assisted living near the personal care home and a new regional hospital would allow senior to age in place as they get older. 
-  CT and MRI Scanners in a new regional hospital in Neepawa area.
-  Good stroke care in the new regional hospital
-  Specialized rehabilitation services
-  Increased focus on wellness with physiotherapy, kinesiology, dietitians as part of a wellness team. 

What needs to be done to improve or to restore trust in our health care system?  
- Improved human resource management for those working in health care would help. 
- More capacity for local decision making in health care would be desireable
-  Improve the telehealth system in Neepawa.  Sometimes connectivity is lost.   There should be a physician or a nurse with the patient in Neepawa to interpret and to help maximize the benefit from telehealth. 
-  Improved longer term planning.   Currently a lot of changes are being made without adequate consultation and without a clear long term plan. 
-  Improved cooperation and people working together instead of blaming others.

What should health care in south-western Manitoba look like in ten, twenty and thirty years.
- There needs to be a new regional hospital in the Neepawa region with the ability to provide high quality care for individuals with a stroke.  
-  There needs to be assisted living in Neepawa put together with other facilities for seniors to provide for aging in place. .  
-  There needs to be a place for seniors and other community members to walk indoors to exercise in winter. 

If you have further comments, you can make a comment below or email me at or fill out our ongoing health care survey at this link - Health Care Survey  

Summaries of earlier public health meetings are to be found by clicking on the name of the community:


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