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The story of Julie and Verna Eyers - Emergency Room operations still leaves people doing hospital tours

Julie Eyers who has frequent seizures has had to go often to Winnpeg's Emergency Rooms.  The situation is much worse than before the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room.  I described Julie's experiences and asked the Minister of Health what he was doing to address the problems which have arisen as a result of the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room. 

Emergency Room Services - Consistency of Care

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, Julie Eyers, daughter of Verna Eyers, has a complex seizure disorder. She was able to receive excellent emergency care from the Victoria hospital at the emergency room until it was closed by this government. In the months since its closure, even with an affiliation letter from the Health Sciences Centre, emergency care has involved what Verna calls hospital tours: setting out for one emergency room, then being redirected to another, and sometimes being redirected to a third before being seen.

      Is the government planning to continue with such hospital tours to get emergency care, or will the government make sure a person like Julie can get consistent emergency care at one site?

Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): I thank the member for River Heights for the question.

      This is actually one of the things that we are addressing in our health transformation. We know that the evidence suggested in Manitoba there were far too many interfacility transfers, transfers between hospitals, transfers between emergency rooms. This is inefficient. It creates patient outcome challenges. It is costly and it takes time. It's one of the reasons that we have embarked on this transformation of our health-care system, to make sure that in time these numbers will continue to fall, getting people the right care at one facility and not multiple facilities.
[The problem with this answer is that the situation now is worse than it was before instead of being better.   Further, there has now been adequate time since the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room that issues should have been addressed.]

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, there's no need to cause chaos when making changes.  Julie is a frequent user of the Winnipeg emergency-care system, and her mother Verna has come to know it well. Compared to the certainty and  excellence of Julie's care before the closure of Victoria hospital, the current system is flawed. Patients like Julie are routinely redirected from one hospital to another before getting care.

      Even when she's having a seizure and needs urgent attention, she's routinely turned away from the Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital emergency rooms because they're full.

      When will the minister correct this problem? When he–when will he correct this treadmill to tragedy?

Mr. Friesen: Well, the member knows, as in all cases, if there is a case that he would like me to have more details on, our office would be happy to receive the particulars in this case and we would look into this woman's experience because, of course, we care.   But that member also knows that he seems to be demonstrating a desire to go back. We know that the Canadian Institute for Health Information said that for years and years in Manitoba, despite spending some of the highest amounts in health care, they got the worst results.  We will not go back to the past. The back pointed to failure and wait times. We're cleaning up those wait times and getting better health care sooner for Manitobans.
[I had written on March 12, approximately a month previously to the Minister of Health about Julie Eyers.  Although a representative from the Health Sciences Centre did meet with Julie's mother, there has not been attention to the systemic problem of people like Julie too often being redirected from one Emergency Room to another before being seen.]

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, on one occasion Julie was directed to the Health Sciences Centre, then redirected to St. Boniface, and then it was full  and so she was redirected back to the Health Sciences Centre. On another occasion she went to the  Health Sciences Centre, was redirected to St.  Boniface, and it was full and she ended up at Seven Oaks.   Verna Eyers calls these hospital tours bumping around until one finds a place to land. This is neither adequate nor appropriate care for a person with a seizure who needs prompt attention, as this letter to the minister, which I table, shows he's already aware of this problem.  Will the government address the major problems it has created in making the current system?

Mr. Friesen: The member knows I'm–be happy to receive more information if he has it–look into this particular case. But he also knows that we inherited a mess. We inherited exactly the system that he described: for years and years in Manitoba, patient transfers, the worst wait time results, the highest ER–in fact, in one year CIHI reported that Grace Hospital had the highest emergency wait times in the entire country, and the next year they said now it was Concordia. We are fixing these problems, Madam Speaker, relying on evidence, relying on expertise of Manitobans and getting better results for all Manitobans. We are on a road to recovery.


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