Pine Falls ER closes due to nurse, doctor vacancies; hospital staff working long hours

Municipal leaders say those who can help are going above and beyond after the Pine Falls Health Complex temporarily shuttered its doors due to staffing shortages leaving the community without an ER. Morgan Modjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

A riverside community in Manitoba says it’s coming together to make sure people who need medical help can still get it, even as its emergency room temporarily shutters due to staffing challenges facing communities across the province and country.

The Pine Falls Health Complex, which serves the community bordering the Winnipeg River, was suspended “effective immediately” on Aug. 31 due to significant nursing vacancies and doctor departures.

But even with the change, the town’s Deputy Mayor Lorie Finkbeiner says those who can help are going above and beyond.

“It makes me feel wonderful,” said Finkbeiner. “I’m really delighted to live in a town where people will step up to do what they can to help.

“This is a town I’ve lived in and been connected with my whole life and it’s reassuring to see people jump in to help their fellow citizens.

“We’re dealing with it well.”


Finkbeiner says this includes staff at the local primary care clinic pulling extended hours and local paramedics pitching in on emergency services where they can, saying everyone is working hard to get more medical professionals into the community.

“People are willing to accept that the people around us are doing everything possible to make health-care available,” she said. “This is not a situation exclusive to Powerview Pine Falls. It’s happening across the province. It’s happening across the country. It’s happening across North America.”

Finkbeiner says they’ve been in constant contact with officials from the Interlake-Eastern Regional Authority about the situation, which she says has helped to ease the concerns that do exist.

In a news release, the health authority’s CEO acknowledged the situation has been hard.

“The RHA acknowledges the gratitude that communities have expressed for the ongoing efforts of nurses, paramedics, physicians and other staff to maintain access to care at the emergency department in Pine Falls and across the region during these challenging times,” said Marion Ellis.

The community’s mayor, Don MacLellan, says the system is going through a change, and even with the challenges it’s faced, the facilities on the ground are still providing solid service and, if needed, quick emergency access through the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service Air Ambulance helicopter and road ambulances as well.

He says so far, it’s been quiet from constituents.

“I’ve had no complaints,” said MacLellan. “It seems to be a normal situation. It’s a system that’s in an evolution and it’s out of our power to alleviate.”

Both Finkbeiner and MacLellan say the efforts to recruit nurses and doctors to the community continues and says if there are any medical professionals out there looking for a job, the beautiful Interlake community may be the Prairie gem they’re looking for.

“It’s the centre of the universe,” said MacLellan. “We’re living in paradise here and the door is always open. Always welcome.”

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