Rural community says faith in Saskatchewan health care shaken after ER disruptions

At the Galloway Health Center in Oxbow, Sask, hundreds of rural Saskatchewan residents gathered on Tuesday night to seek answers after at least a dozen emergency departments were closed in recent weeks.

Guest speakers at City Hall include (left to right) Candice Kopech, SHA Interim Director of Primary Care; Cannington MLA Darryl Harrison; Care Director Colleen Easton was included.

Conor O’Donovan / Global News

And while Saskatchewan State Health Authority (SHA) officials reaffirmed that the staffing issues causing the disruption have been resolved, community members said the local health system was not stable. He said he wasn’t sure.

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“It’s a good thing. It’s a step in the right direction,” said Tamara Bullock, a local resident who helped organize City Hall, which brought SHA officials and local politicians to Oxbow.

“But our job doesn’t end here. I think we’ve seen over 100 hours of emergency services shut down at this facility since January 1.”

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More than 250 local residents attended the City Hall.

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Among the officials questioned at City Hall was SHA Southeast Acute Care Director Colleen Easton. According to Easton, by her calculations, the center has experienced ER disruptions for at least her 12 days since the beginning of the new year.

She explained that there must be at least one registered nurse on a shift to run the ER, and because there are multiple vacancies, the rest of the nursing staff cannot be placed in the emergency department 24 hours a day. said.

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“Oxbow has 2.5 open registered nurse lines that have since been filled. Incumbents are expected to start in the next few days. We look forward to that,” said Easton.

“Filling these positions can take time, and once they flock to you, for a while, you can get more than you can handle.”

Ms. Brock says nurses who work or have worked at Galloway Health Center are overworked and exhausted, in some cases hundreds of hours of overtime a year. I’m not sure it doesn’t.

“These nurses are working nonstop to keep this open. I have,” said Bullock.

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When questioned by community members, Easton promised to insist on adding another registered nurse to the Oxbow facility.

But due to high demand for medical workers across Saskatchewan, Easton said he couldn’t make any promises.

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For example, a recent Saskatchewan audit report notes that SHA projected a need for 520 new registered nurses over the next five years.

“I request that additional positions be considered so that redundancy is built into the system,” Easton said.

“There is chaos across the state.

Easton added that he doesn’t know why the recently retired nurse left.

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The floor was open to community members to ask questions of SHA officials and local politicians in attendance. The town hall lasted over two hours.

Conor O’Donovan / Global News

Even the news from the SHA did not appear to be enough to calm the concerns of the approximately 250 local residents in attendance.

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Some expressed concern about further ER chaos, or a general lack of service, to the raucous applause from onlookers.

“If the Oxbow ER were closed, it could be an hour drive for emergency care,” said David Dyck, a local paramedic who approached Mike at the meeting.

“Travel time, taking someone to a higher level of care can cost someone their life.”

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Dyck’s team has experienced incidents where patients had to be taken to Estevan or Arcola ERs for Oxbow closures, adding out-of-community services like STARS Air Ambulance. However, it is not always possible to fill the gap.

“It’s very frustrating. We only have one ambulance in our town, so we often have to wait 30 minutes for a spare one,” he said.

“Then shutting down the local ER and delaying it further is really scary. There can be multiple casualty incidents and a lot of the time we kind of do.”

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Meanwhile, event organizers plan to document all concerns expressed at City Hall and pass them on to the state, along with a request for a comprehensive plan to maintain access to medical services. It says there is

Tamara Brock said the community wants continued dialogue with SHA and the Saskatchewan government.

“We have an action plan in place and we will submit it to SHA and the government and ask them to complete the action plan or let us know when it will be completed.”

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Galloway Health Center emergency services are vital to community health: Paramedics in Saskatchewan

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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