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Rally protests hospital closure, supports affected staff

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Residents in Grandview turned out, Nov. 26, to show their support and appreciation for their hospital and the staff that work in it.
The display followed a recent decision by Prairie Mountain Health to temporarily close the hospital, including lab services and acute care, and transfer staff to the Grandview Personal Care Home to provide relief during a COVID-19 outbreak there.
A line of vehicles along Hwy. 364 and Mill Street, contained residents and supporters lined up in a peaceful protest, watching as staff prepared patients to be transferred to other facilities in the region.
Grandview Municipality Mayor, Kevin Edmondson, was pleased to see the turn out and the safe precautions participants took to ensure they were abiding by the Code Red protocols.
“Most of the community is very upset, as I am,” said Edmondson.
“I understand where its coming from and why Prairie Mountain Health Authority is doing this, but I don’t agree with it. The pandemic is not an easy situation and especially now with all the deaths we’re having in care homes. I know it’s the right thing to do take care of our residents in the care homes, but this was an extreme measure. I would think there are potentially other avenues to consider, but I just don’t know what they are.”
Edmondson received a call from PMH CEO, Penny Gilson around noon Nov. 25, notifying him that a decision was made with regards to the temporary closure of the Grandview and District Hospital.
“Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) is taking these extraordinary measures in order to redeploy staffing resources to address an emerging critical need. The care and safety of our clients, patients, residents and staff is our key priority when making resource decisions during this unprecedented time,” Gilson said in a prepared statement, adding it has been confirmed an additional nine residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of confirmed resident cases at the PCH to 11, along with one confirmed positive staff member.
“The situation within Grandview Personal Care Home is evolving. The temporary suspension of the Emergency Department and acute hospital services at Grandview Hospital was not made lightly, it is deemed necessary in order to ensure we have the appropriate staffing levels in place to support the needs of the PCH during this outbreak situation.”
Gilson added PMH’s goal with the measures is to ensure supports are available to PCH residents without the need for transport to hospital wherever possible. By transitioning staff to the PCH, she added, PMH is able to support additional monitoring, intravenous fluids, intravenous medications, and other treatments that require additional nursing and health care aide assistance.
“Supports in non-nursing areas are also required to assist with additional cleaning measures, dietary needs and connecting with our residents’ families on a daily basis,” Gilson said, adding patients that were in Grandview Hospital were transferred to nearby facilities including Dauphin Regional Health Centre and Roblin Health Centre.
“In other cases, patients that could be safely discharged, were. Primary care services and diagnostic services remain available for those in Grandview requiring these services. This suspension of services at the Grandview Health Centre is a temporary measure while we support the Grandview PCH during this outbreak.”
Gilson said PMH will continue to keep staff, physicians and residents informed of the ongoing developments at its health facilities in Grandview.
“We know that everyone in the Grandview area wants our PCH residents to receive the best possible care - this course of action will help us to do this,” she said.
“We very much appreciate the support of the staff, physicians and community and surrounding area of Grandview while we care for the residents of the Grandview Personal Care Home.
In his discussion with Gilson, Edmondson expressed his concern and disagreement with the situation. Edmondson was told that the closure will be in place for a minimum of three weeks.
“I can’t see the closure lasting only three weeks, I think it will be a bit longer,” noted Edmondson.
“In my heart I am hoping that the hospital comes back soon because it’s needed in the area. We have not only our own residents, but ones from Toontinaowaziibeeng First Nation, Gilbert Plains, and Roblin that we were supporting with our hospital.”
Grandview has made substantial investments to keep it doctors and nurses and its hospital open to the community. With over 60 per cent of the community’s population being seniors, it is crucial to have the facility open and running at full capacity, Edmondson said.
“We were down to one doctor for the longest time and we are very thankful for her,” noted Edmondson.
“We canvassed PMH to hire some International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and we were lucky to get one last year. He has started and is doing very well with his family here. We supply housing for him and his family. This year, we also received another IMG, so now we are up to three full-time doctors.
“As far as the nursing situation, we have been short in the hospital for quite some time. We are now looking at having another full-time nurse coming here for December. She is coming here to work for at least two years and in turn we give her a bonus. I think a lot of small communities need to provide that incentive. That initiative started with the previous council and without that, I don’t know if this hospital would be going. It’s needed and that is the reality of it today, otherwise we will be going to regional hospitals and I don’t want that ever to happen.”
Residents who fall ill during the closure will be directed to either Dauphin or Russell as their nearest point for medical treatment. Grandview is fortunate to still have ambulance services in the community to transfer patients to the nearest facility.
“Right now the ambulance is still providing services and will continue to provide service for that patient, to take them to the closest ER that is open,” explained Edmondson.
“I know the patients currently making preparations to be transferred from our hospital are being given the choice of whether they want to go to Dauphin or Russell.”
Grandview Municipality will continue to work with community members and organizations to ensure the opening of the hospital ER will resume as soon as possible.
“We are drafting up a letter to go to the Minister of Health,” said Edmondson.
“I have talked to our MLA last night and made my concerns known, so he is aware. I also talked to the Gilbert Plains Municipality Reeve and will be reaching out to Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation Chief very soon. This is not easy especially for the outlying areas.
“Working together is key, for sure. To me its not a matter of if COVID-19 will end, but when. We were very lucky for a long time and I am thankful for that, but people need to understand that masks, social distancing and washing hands are the right things to do in a time like this. Don’t ever think you won’t ever contract COVID-19 because of the fake news stories people are seeing and hearing about. This is not fake news, it is real. I know some of the people in the care home and I feel for them. They are working steadily to fight this. COVID-19 will end and we will get on top of this once we get a vaccine. It may not be the answer to everything but it will help.
“As for the hospital and ER, I firmly believe it will come back and the council, as well as myself, will fight our hardest to ensure that it does.
“I think it’s the right decision to look after the care home and our seniors, so we will pull up our bootstraps and do that. I just cannot believe any government or health authority would use a pandemic to close a hospital down.”

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Staff Writer
REPORTER
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