Health Care Is Improving – 2019 Winnipeg Free Press, Edition 1/23/2019

Health Care Is Improving – 2019 Winnipeg Free Press, Edition 1/23/2019 – submitted by Andrew Micklefield

The start of a new year is often a time to reflect on the highlights and accomplishments of the previous months, and to lay a framework for progress in the coming year.

In 2017-18, Manitobans received more than 4,100 hip and knee replacements and underwent 12,900 cataract surgeries. A new $5.3-million investment by our government will significantly increase the number of these surgeries in 2019, providing an additional 1,000 hip and knee procedures and 2,000 more cataract surgeries. That’s 25 per cent more hip and knee operations and 16 per cent more cataract procedures.

Following recommendations from the provincial Wait Times Reduction Task Force, new technology and better practices have co-ordinated, streamlined and enhanced services to improve care. Patients meeting clinical criteria can have cataract surgeries with freezing rather than sedation. A hip and knee clinic is decreasing the number of people needing surgery, and many requiring surgery are now home on the same day. These changes are based on expert advice, clinical planning and evidence-based practices, allowing us to invest strategically to serve patients better. Similar streamlining has reduced MRI wait times by 30 per cent.

Our government’s improvements to health care have been seen across the province. Through our work with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, emergency wait times in Winnipeg this past August were 25 per cent lower than in August 2015. As well, ambulance service now costs Manitoba patients two-thirds of what it did two years ago, and we will reduce ambulance fees further. We are investing more for health care than ever in Manitoba’s history, hiring nurses and employing more doctors.

These improvements are overdue, as Manitobans experienced uncertainty, delay and difficulty in accessing health care services for far too long.

Thankfully, things are changing.

Concordia Hospital is helping lead these changes by expanding hip, knee and cataract services to serve the whole province, and by opening a Walk-In Connected Care Clinic later this year for non-life-threatening, sameday health issues. The Concordia clinic will be open 12 hours a day with physicians, registered nurses and other professionals as well as on-site laboratory and diagnostic services. In addition, Victoria Hospital is expanding its services to become a centre of excellence for mental health. Several addiction service initiatives are also underway.

These changes are helping Manitoba patients get better care, sooner. We are increasing capacity, reducing wait times and improving outcomes for patients now and into the future.


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