Temporary disruption to Redvers Health Centre ER service hours

May 9, 2023, 3:44 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts

Emergency and Acute care services will only be available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Redvers Health Centre, due to a physician shortage.

Effective Monday, May 8, Emergency and Acute care services will only be available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Redvers Health Centre, due to a physician shortage.

No emergency and acute care services will be available on weekends and after 8 p.m. on weekdays.

As such, acute care patients that need to stay overnight in the hospital would have to be transferred to a nearby facility, and would not be able to stay overnight in Redvers during the closed hours.

On May 5, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) advised the public that the temporary service disruption is due to a physician shortage, and that the change in service hours will remain in effect until “adequate staff and physicians have been recruited to allow for safe and sustainable emergency care.”

Currently, two full-time equivalent physician positions have been posted for the Redvers Health Centre, with one position confirmed to be filled by July.

“All of Saskatchewan is suffering with doctors, it’s not unique to us,” said Mayor of Redvers Brad Bulbuck.

“We have been confirmed for one SIPPA doctor, that’s all I can share at this time. They’re going to be here in the summertime and I know the South East Medical Group is working diligently to get another one.”

Prior to the change in hours of emergency and acute care services at Redvers Health Centre, there were two full time doctors and a full staff of nurses at the facility.

“We originally had three doctors then we were down to two doctors. The change of hours happened when we went down to basically one doctor,” said Spence Sutter, Chair of the South East Medical Group.

“We have a whole slate of nurses. Hopefully this is just temporary because we do have SIPPA doctors coming.”

During the temporary service disruption, the South East Medical Group will be working towards filling that full time physician spot, in order to bring the number of doctors at Redvers Health Centre back to three.

“Right now we’re trying to recruit doctors and advocate for a doctor,” said Sutter.

“Our role, too, is finding locums to fill in. We’re just trying to work with SHA, but they’re busy and locums are hard to come by. That’s been one of the biggest roles of the South East Medical Group right now, is to find locums to fill in so we can keep it open as much as possible.

“Hopefully the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is temporary. It could be off and on, but we want to keep something stable. At least we have emergency services for those hours.”

Second time Redvers faces ER disruptions
In fall 2021, the 24-hour emergency services at the Redvers Health Centre were temporarily closed from September 2021 to January, 2022.

It was not until February 2022 where they opened back up, but only at limited hours.

With the ER disruptions happening again, due to a shortage of physicians, Sutter said he hopes it will be only for a short period of time.

“It’s frustrating, because for one reason there’s not that many locums to go around,” he said.

“There’s several communities that are short of doctors, and so when we were short of doctors before, we could basically get a locum from Saskatchewan Health Authority or saskdocs, but now there’s Canora, Melville, Preeceville, a list of towns that are short of doctors.

“Before, if there was only two or three hospitals that were short of doctors, there were enough hospitals to provide locums, but now there’s not enough locums to keep these hospitals running.

“But, I think the government is doing a fairly decent job by getting more doctors from other countries and training more SIPPA doctors. It should help, and hopefully this is just a short term thing.”

Bulbuck spoke about how the changes in ER service hours will impact the community.

“There’s no emergency services on the weekends and there’s no services in the evenings so anyone who does have an emergency between those times there is going to be disruptions, there is going to be heartache, and it is disappointing,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re experiencing the same disruption service levels that a lot of communities in southeast Saskatchewan have.

“It’s getting a lot of air time now because there’s service levels disruptions in the city now. You’re actually seeing that on TV because the cities are realizing some of these things.

“It is something that we, the South East Medical Group, are working diligently on with the SHA, and the ministers of health and the Government of Saskatchewan to get rectified.”

How long will the services disruptions last?
Sutter said they are hoping to recruit locums to help maintain the ER services at Redvers, during the temporary service disruptions.

“We do have one doctor for sure coming in July, and we’re trying to get a second one for July also,” he said.

“We should be straightened out by July. It’s sort of a two and a half month process here that we’re going to be shut down. After that we have plans for locums to fill in, even if we only have two doctors, but hopefully we’re going to have three by July or August.”

With the shortage of physicians being an ongoing problem at Redvers Health Centre and in the region, Sutter was asked what he thinks a permanent solution would be.

“A solution is to get three doctors or even two doctors would normalize us, but we can’t run with just two doctors forever,” he said.

“You want to get in to having three doctors because of on-call. Also if you have three doctors, one in three isn’t all that bad if every month or two you bring in a locum to sort of fill in a bit, that helps.

“Having three doctors at Redvers was working really well, and with bringing in locums.”

Bulbuck said the town and the South East Medical Group are working closely with SHA to get the temporary disruptions solved.

“We understand what everyone is going through. Everyone in the community is experiencing it including the people that are on these boards,” said Bulbuck.

“We all have loved ones, we are working hard to ensure that these situations get fixed.”