Temporary changes at Preeceville and District Health Centre angers residents

Preeceville and area residents were livid and demanded answers when they discovered that the Sunrise Health Region had made an announcement that effective June 1, acute inpatient admissions and emergency room services will be suspended at the Preeceville and District Health Centre.

“This is a temporary change until predictable, consistent and sustainable on-call coverage is secured,” said a release from Sunrise. “Preeceville continues to have around-the-clock emergency services provided by ambulance and paramedics which can be accessed by calling 9-1-1. The Preeceville and District Health Centre facility is not closing and there will not be any job losses as a result of this current situation.”

The Preeceville and District Health Centre will be fully utilized and staffed for lab and X-ray services, long-term care, respite, day wellness and the primary health care clinic, visiting services and home care, the release said. Outpatient treatments will continue such as suture removal, dressing changes, IV antibiotics, and nebulizer treatments. More long-term care beds, respite, and palliative care will be added to meet local needs.

Sunrise Health Region recognizes the need for additional long-tem care in the Preeceville area. In addition to the 38 long-tem care beds and two respite beds, six additional long-tem care beds will be put into service in the Preeceville and District Health Centre, the Sunrise release said. This will help address the needs and will assist several people from the Preeceville area who are currently on transfer lists awaiting open long-tem care beds in Preeceville. Four beds at the Preeceville and District Health Centre will be available for stable clients requiring supervised care; examples being respite care, and palliative care.

Preeceville currently has one physician and a nurse practitioner who will continue to provide clinic appointments at the primary health care clinic which is located in the Preeceville and District Health Centre. Sunrise Health Region is devoted to working with the community of Preeceville to retain physician services and to ensure consistent primary health care.”

Residents rallied with a petition signing that was taken to the legislature in Regina by spokesperson Stacey Strykowski. Concerned residents also utilized social media to voice their concerns over the issue. Strykowski also made phone calls to the Sask. Party and NDP with the NDP being the only ones who returned her call. They encouraged her to get a petition signed and take it to the legislature on May 19.

The Sunrise Health Region also issued a questions-and-answers sheet that outlined the changes and how the decision affects the residents.

“Fairness is all we want,” said Lorne Plaxin, a resident. “Preeceville has a population of 1,070 and under the Sunrise Health Region we have one doctor and one nurse practioner and are now faced with the closure of our emergency services. In Kelvington, they have a population of 874 and under the Kelsey –Trail Region, they operate with three doctors and one nurse practioner and their emergency room is open 24/7. We need to address what is wrong with our Health Region,” he said

“After meeting/talking to over 35 people yesterday it is very clear people are upset and feel they are seeing a systematic reduction in services at our hospital,” Mayor Garth Harris said on May 18.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t feel like that. You do and that is important to both myself and all our town and rural councils.

“There are people writing petitions that you can sign. Petitions need to be written in a style that can be acted on by the petitioned to have the impact you are looking for. I would be the first to sign any legal petition stating the need for additional doctors or improvement in health care ?.

“There are people heading out to the legislature on May 19 to voice their concerns. Please support them.

“You can contact all the powers that be: government, health region, towns, RMs and/or myself.

“Like any problem, get it on the table and talk it out until you have an acceptable outcome. That starts with the facts. We can disagree without being disagreeable, all views and ideas have value when trying to reach a goal. I am hearing the need for a town hall meeting. I will be there to help facilitate and help where I can,” said Harris.

Roberta Wiwcharuk, Susan Laurent and Sandy Tokaruk, all Sunrise Health Region executive members, have dropped off their business cards at the town office with their numbers for any concerned residents wishing to express any concern over this announcement.

The NDP also issued a press release.

“Less than a year after a man passed away due to services cut at the Preeceville and District Integrated Health Care Facility, the Sask. Party government has chosen to cut the services altogether.

“In June of last year, Floyd Head suffered a heart attack in is home, a mere block from the hospital; however, at the time the centre was closed every two weeks and Head wasn’t able to receive treatment of any kind. Now, according to a document given to staff in the Sunrise Health Region, emergency room services at the hospital will be suspended as of June 1.

“The closure has left Preeceville residents like Stacey Strykowski worried about the safety of her six-year-old son, who has a severe peanut allergy.”

“My six-year-old son has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts,” said Strykowski. “He carries two EpiPens but still needs to be taken to a hospital within 20 minutes to survive. If this hospital is closed, he will die before an ambulance can get him to Canora or Yorkton.”

NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier called the closure unacceptable, and demanded the Sask. Party put a stop to this shortsighted cut.

“This government clearly doesn’t understand the reality that many families face,” she said. “Cutting vital services while adding more lean consultants and executives is not a solution that will work for patients and families.”

Preeceville has had four physicians leave since 2010 and Chartier noted this is a sign that the Sask. Party is failing to do what is needed to retain muchneeded rural physicians.

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