Doctor shortage shuts down Vita emergency room

Photo by Marianne Curtis

Emergency room services at the Vita and District Health Centre have been suspended due to shortage of doctors practicing in the community.

By Marianne Curtis

A shortage of rural doctors has forced the Southern Regional Health Authority to shut down the emergency room at the Vita and District Health Centre.

Dr. Myron Thiessen, Vice President of Medical Services for Southern Regional Health Authority says that is lack of doctors that has forced them to close the Vita emergency room from October 17 to November 12.

“We don’t have enough physicians available who are in Vita to be able to keep the emergency department up and running on a consistent basis,” stated Thiessen. He says there are doctors available to cover the clinic and hospital patients but to expect them to also cover the emergency department would be asking too much.

“This is a difficulty we can not overcome,” Thiessen adds.

In order to keep the emergency room operational at least three doctors on an ongoing basis are needed to maintain a reasonable on-call schedule. Opening the emergency room on a part time basis was considered but after consideration it was determined that it would be too confusing for people needing medical treatment.

RM of Stuartburn Reeve Jim Swidersky says he was not surpised by the decision but he was very concerned.

“People are starting to worry, they are questioning how long this will last and if services will be discontinued permanently,” stated Swidersky. “This doesn’t just concern residents but also passersby – people can not people the southeast will be left without an emergency room until Steinbach or Winnipeg.”

Thiessen says he doesn’t blame residents for being worried about losing emergency services.

“It is an important aspect to any community’s life,” he acknowledged.

Meanwhile, Thiessen says that Southern Regional Health Authority is actively recruiting doctors to fill the vacant positions.

While the emergency room is closed the Vita and District Health Centre’s Emergency Medical Services will remain unaffected.



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