Province sets July opening date for new Regina urgent care centre

A new urgent care centre in Regina is scheduled to open its doors to patients on July 2, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

The announcement was made on Wednesday in front of the facility, located at 1320 Albert Street. The province says it will provide urgent care for patients with non-life threatening injuries, mental health support and some illnesses.

The facility was first announced in December as part of the province's Regina Capacity Pressure Action Plan, meant to alleviate overcrowding in hospitals and eliminate hallway hospital care.

The facility will open in two phases. The first will allow patients to receive care from 8 a.m to 9:30 p.m CST seven days a week. The second phase is scheduled for the fall and will bring 24-hour care.

"This new model of care will see physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, technicians, and other allied health professionals work together as one team," said Derek Miller, chief operating officer of SHA.

Miller said the urgent care centre is expected to divert at least 20,000 patient visits a year away from Regina hospitals. This means the centre could expect roughly 55 patients a day. Miller said this is based on "initial projections and historical emergency room data."

The urgent care centre will be used to treat patients with non-life threatening injuries, according to SHA COO Derek Miller. Miller says the facility will divert at least 20,000 patients from hospitals per year.
The urgent care centre will be used to treat patients with non-life threatening injuries, according to SHA COO Derek Miller. Miller says the facility will divert at least 20,000 patients from hospitals per year. (CBC News)

Staffing issues continue, union says

The union representing more than 13,000 health care workers in the province said the move to provide more urgent care is welcome, but the timeline is unsatisfactory.

CUPE 5430 said in a statement that it only found out Wednesday that the July 2 opening date would not include 24-hour care. It also said July 2 is already a later date than was originally planned.

The statement said the centre has been dealing with staffing issues since the early planning stages.

"This project is another example of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and provincial government focusing on creating new buildings with little consideration for health care workers who will be working in them," the statement read.

CUPE 5430 President, Bashire Jalloh, told CBC that most of the staff in the facility will be taken from Pasqua Hospital and Regina General Hospital, a move that will only cause more staffing shortages.

"There is no new staffing coming into the province," he said. "Right now we have a chronic staffing problem at both the General Hospital and Pasqua Hospital."

Miller said the centre has recruited 116 workers and said it is working toward a full staff of 125.

NDP health critic Vicki Mowat criticized the province for not completing staffing before its opening date.

"Scott Moe and the Sask. Party are driving health-care workers out of the province, so I'm not surprised that they can't staff a facility that's been finished since April. This facility is supposed to be open 24/7 and there's still no timeline on when that will happen," she said in a statement.

Province also turning to long-term care homes to alleviate pressures

As part of the Saskatoon Capacity Pressure Action Plan, the provincial government signed a five-year deal with three private care homes to transfer patients into their care.

Miller confirmed that Regina has taken similar steps to address overcrowding and continued urgent care.

"We have actually in Regina established 20 transition care beds at Regina Lutheran Home with the same intent that we would be able to transition patients that are currently in hospital that don't need hospital care," he said.

Some families expressed concerns about how the program was implemented in Saskatoon. One private home in Warman was removed from the program in the wake of health and safety violations found during an inspection.

Residents and staff at Regina Lutheran Home will be moved out of the home by April 2024.
The province says it has established 20 beds at the Regina Lutheran Home that will be used to transfer patients from hospitals who require continued care that is no longer considered hospital care. (CBC News)

The SHA also recently purchased the care home from Eden Care Communities to stop the facility from shutting down.

Miller said that the transition beds have become operational at the care home within the past few weeks.