'We want to know why': Wolseley residents frustrated over lack of communication about hospital reopening
WOLSELEY, SASK. -- Residents in Wolseley are voicing their concerns and frustration with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) over the lack of communication they’ve received about the reopening of their local hospital.
In April, the SHA converted several community hospitals across Saskatchewan to deal with the pandemic. The Wolseley Memorial Union Hospital was converted to an Alternate Level of Care (ALC) site.
In May, the SHA announced nine facilities would be reopening their emergency departments, and the hospital in Wolseley was on that list.
Now more than three months later, the hospital remains closed for most services and residents say they have received no communication about what the future plans for the hospital are.
“People want to know what’s going on,” Gerald Hill, the mayor of Wolseley, said. “If you’re opening, open. If you’re not, you’re not. But tell us. It gets rid of all the speculation that’s out there.”
Hill said he’s reached out to provincial health officials on numerous occasions, but said he’s received nothing but “canned answers.”
“You had a plan to close it, so you should have a plan to reopen it,” he said.
For the past few months, residents of Wolseley and other nearby communities have been going to Indian Head Union Hospital for any treatment they need. It is about 35 kilometres from Wolseley.
“It’s not fair to that community either. They’re overworked and over burned by this,” Hill said. “A temporary measure is supposed to be temporary, not permanent.”
He said at this point, receiving any sort of answer would be a great first step.
“Council’s question is we had a fully functioning emergency and acute care service prior to the pandemic, so what’s changed now?” He said.
“They say that there’s staffing issues, but they’re announcing more money for schools and more help there. Why are we not having more help to get some of these centres opened?”
Deanna Fjestad, a resident of Wolseley, said the constant wondering has been frustrating.
“Our number one concern is that we’ve had absolutely no communication from anybody,” Fjestad said. “We want to have explanations, we want to know why. Why can they solve the problem in one community and not solve it here?”
She said there are also concerns about the fact that the nearest hospital is quite far away. She said there are many seniors in the community and some worry the distance to help in an emergency is almost half an hour away.
A statement sent to CTV News on behalf of Karen Earnshaw, Vice President of Integrated Health and Dr. Kevin Wasko, Physician Executive of Integrated Rural Health said the hospital remains closed due to staffing issues. It said the SHA continues to recruit to vacant positions in order to resume full hospital services.
“Human resource pressures and ongoing recruitment challenges are the reason the remaining facilities in Broadview, Lanigan and Wolseley have not resume acute care services,” it said.
The statement said there is currently no timeline to reopen as it depends on the ability to recruit staff.