Sunday, January 19, 2014

Is Grace ER safe?

In 2008, Grace Hospital was transferred in ownership from the Salvation Army to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. In 2011, Greg Selinger announced that the troubled hospital would have a $22 million overhaul to the Emergency Room. Construction was to start in 2013 and finish in 2014.

Obviously, nothing is happening. The Free Press reports today that construction won't even begin till 2016, five years after the announcement by the NDP government. The completed ER will be in 2018, four years past the original completion date.

Grace is the hospital that serves the western part of the city on Portage Avenue. The catchment ares includes St. James, Charleswood, Tuxedo and Headingley. It is a large area. The area is growing. And no new ER till 2018?

It is a wonder if Greg Selinger will even be in political office then. This is no idle statement. It will be long time after the next election. Win or lose, he might step down by the time the ribbon ever gets cut on the new ER. In 2018, he will be 67.

At age 67, you might have concerns about healthcare. At least one of the two of people who died after being discharged from Grace Hospital was in their 60s.

Now, to be fair Grace Hospital is not the only hospital to discharges someone in their 60s only to see them die shortly after. Seven Oaks Hospital also has that deadly distinction from 2012.

It is obvious that discharge policies are flawed since the same poor outcomes are repeated. The assurances in 2012 that things would be different rang hollow in 2013 and now in 2014, you got to wonder if the government even wants to know what the problem is.

The first instinct of the Health Minister Erin Selby was that Manitoba had a taxi problem rather than a hospital problem.

The reports of morale and staffing problems at Grace are not new ones. The Grace very nearly lost credentials as an ER facility not too long ago. It has also been subject to scrutiny for deaths in the ER.

Once again, they are not the only hospital to have deaths in the ER. The Health Sciences Centre and Victoria Hospital are also in that category.

But let's get back to Grace. If Grace was in dire need in 2011 and the only major hospital in Winnipeg not to receive an ER upgrade, what will be situation be from now to 2018?

To put it more clearly...if you were Greg Selinger and you had an emergency health problem, would you not beg the ambulance to keep driving you to St. Boniface Hospital?

Is Grace Hospital ER safe? 

I don't think that is a provocative statement. I am sure there are excellent nurses and doctors there. However, are there enough? Is it overcrowded? Are they overworked? Is the equipment outdated?

And on it goes.

Grace is the closest hospital to me. I wonder though if it would be my first ER choice. I don't think so. And I'm not sure many other people including those in the government would or should feel comfortable at the highest level that it would be a safe choice.

To this end, the NDP government has failed. They have not made Grace Hospital a priority for emergency care and people are dying. And blaming tax drivers for the mess didn't fool anyone.

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