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Emergency care at Leaf Rapids health centre closed until Sept.: NHR

The emergency department at the Leaf Rapids Health Centre has been closed and will not open until at least August 31.
ER file image.

The emergency department at the Leaf Rapids Health Centre has been closed and will not open until at least August 31.

The Northern Health Region [NHR] announced it would be closing the centre’s emergency department down until the end of August as a result of a staff shortage.

“This is a result of ongoing, persistent staffing issues,” reads the NHR announcement.

Some services are still available at the centre throughout the rest of July and through August, but only during standard business hours. Primary care and public health services will be available at the centre from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. from Monday to Friday, but no health services at all will be available on Saturday and Sunday and care may not be available during evenings and during the wee hours.

In the announcement, the NHR asked the public to use the emergency department at Lynn Lake or to call 911 in case of severe health issues, with specific issues mentioned including symptoms of stroke, heart attack, severe headaches or confusion, seizures, violent attacks, burns or other dire injuries.

“If your issue is not life-threatening, please visit the primary care clinic during regular business hours or call Health Links-Info Sante at 1-888-315-9257,” reads the NHR announcement.

The closure is the second health service shutdown in Leaf Rapids this year. The centre was closed over the holidays last winter, but a closure that was initially announced as temporary was extended to an indefinite closure Jan. 10. All services at the centre were closed at that time, with staff shortages also blamed by the NHR for the closure. The centre was reopened Jan. 24 following public outcry over the closure.

The Leaf Rapids centre is supposed to be staffed with three registered nurses (RN) at full capacity - according to NHR documents unearthed through a Manitoba NDP Freedom of Information request in 2021, only one RN was on staff at the centre at the time. Current staffing levels for the facility were unknown as of press time.

During the closure, the NHR advised residents that all clinical care requests or other supports would either be provided in Lynn Lake or Thompson - both long distances away from the community. Phone calls for the Leaf Rapids centre were forwarded to Lynn Lake during the closure.

The NHR operates five northern hospitals, with hubs in The Pas and Thompson and smaller facilities in Lynn Lake, Gillam and Flin Flon.

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