The opposition New Democrats continue to hammer away at the government on the issue of rural emergency rooms closures, even after news that most of them will be reopened.
Emergency rooms were closed at 12 communities to accommodate the pandemic response. On Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe announced plans to reverse course and reopen most of them over the course of a few weeks, starting in mid-June.
But three will remain closed, in Broadview, Lanigan and Radville, due to what the Saskatchewan Health Authority cited as “pre-existing service disruptions,”
“Quite discouraging to see that there are still three communities where there is no plan for reopening,” said health critic Vicki Mowat at the news conference. She also noted concerns about rural health care “have existed for years now.”
She also pointed to data obtained in a Freedom of Information request made by the NDP on the issue of disruptions of over 24 hours at emergency rooms in communities across the province. She noted disruptions happened at 11 out of the 12 communities whose emergency rooms were closed, and blamed the situation on a lack of funding.
“We need to quickly address these funding shortfalls,” Mowat said.
The data in the FOI request goes back to 2012. Included was information about 39 service disruptions at Battlefords Union Hospital going back to September of 2014.
Those included disruptions to surgical services, obstetrical services, emergency stabilization services, therapy services, fluoroscopy and computerized tomography diagnostic services, and basic radiography and laboratory services, among others. Most took place over periods lasting a number of days or weeks.
Last year, service disruptions at BUH included intensive care services from June 17 to Nov 15, basic radiography and lab services from March 7 to August 9, health assessment and screening services from Feb 19 to 21, and fluoroscopy and computerized tomography diagnostic services from Jan. 21 to Feb. 26.