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Leaf Rapids health centre shuts down, no date set for reopening: NHR

The Leaf Rapids Health Centre has now been closed indefinitely, as of Jan. 10.
A glass door with red and white "closed" sign.

The Leaf Rapids Health Centre has now been closed indefinitely, as of Jan. 10.

The Northern Health Region (NHR) announced the shutdown Jan. 8 after previously stating the centre would be temporarily closed over the holidays due to staff shortages.

“The Leaf Rapids Health Centre will not be reopening on Jan. 10 and will be closed until further notice,” reads the NHR announcement.

“This is as the result of ongoing, persistent staffing issues. No services will be provided during this temporary closure.”

The NHR has stated the closure would be temporary, but no reopening date for the centre has been announced.

While the centre is shut down, phones at the centre will be redirected to Lynn Lake and clinical care and support will be referred to Lynn Lake or Thompson - two-and-a-half hours and four hours’ drive away from Leaf Rapids, respectively.

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 earlier this winter, only one RN was on staff at the centre.

The news was met with condemnation from northern leaders, including Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee. Settee, whose group represents First Nations in northern Manitoba, said closing the centre would make health care harder to access for northerners.

“It is reprehensible that the NHR would close a health centre in northern Manitoba amidst the spread of COVID-19. I am extremely concerned to hear of the impact of the closure on Leaf Rapids citizens. I am worried about the wellbeing and safety of MKO citizens who depend on accessing health services in Leaf Rapids,” said Settee in a Jan. 10 statement.

“We remain extremely concerned for citizens who rely on Leaf Rapids health facilities and are forced to access health services that are hours away. It is imperative we find solutions on an urgent basis to avoid unnecessary complications and potentially the premature passing of Manitoba citizens due to a lack of health services.”

The centre was initially closed Dec. 27 and was supposed to remain closed until Jan. 10 - the NHR announced that the centre was supposed to open temporarily Jan. 4 for primary care appointments.

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