Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell is calling on the minister of Health and Long-Term Care to help residents of Rainy River find a permanent solution to their health care crisis.
Speaking in Question Period on Monday, Campbell asked Health minister Deb Matthews to outline the government’s plans to help ensure the community’s emergency room stays open.
“Since October, it has been operating with only one physician. And now the Emergency Room is expected to close by Dec. 24 because of this doctor shortage,” Campbell stated.
“The community has been raising these concerns with the minister for months,” she noted. “Does the minister have a plan to prevent Rainy River’s ER from closing?”
In her response, Matthews stated that most of the vacant shifts, up until January, had been filled.
Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. confirmed yesterday that coverage over the Christmas period will be provided by locum physicians.
However, if no coverage is found moving into the new year, Riverside conceded there likely will be periods when there is no emergency coverage available at the Rainy River Health Centre.
Riverside did say a contingency plan has been developed, and will be made available to the public.
While the news delays the closure of the emergency room for now, Campbell said a more permanent solution is needed to ensure the health care needs of Rainy River, and surrounding communities, are met.
“A potential closure affects roughly 2,700 people who would be forced to travel an hour or more to an emergency room in Fort Frances,” she remarked.
“Residents need peace of mind,” she stressed. “There may be doctors now, but what happens a month from now when the temporary solution runs out?
“Will patients in need be forced to travel 100 km or more on a narrow, icy highway to have their health problems assessed?
“In emergency situations, people could die before they are able to access the necessary health care,” Campbell warned.
Campbell said she will continue to pressure the minister and her staff until a permanent solution is in place.
She further encouraged residents to write letters and e-mails to her Fort Frances constituency office, expressing why keeping the emergency room open is important to them.
These will be forwarded on to the minister to show community support.