REGINA – A Preeceville, Sask. family was at the legislature on Thursday to help raise concerns about the upcoming suspension of emergency room and acute services at the local hospital.
On Wednesday, the Sun Rise Health Region announced the temporary shutdown, which starts on June 1, citing “lack of physician coverage.”
READ MORE: ER services to be suspended in Preeceville, Sask.
Stacey Strykowski said her six year-old son Jackson has a severe peanut allergy. He has two EpiPens on him at all times but needs emergency treatment within 20 minutes of using the EpiPen to receive additional steroid treatments.
Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit says while the shutdown is unfortunate, Preeceville still has a number of nurse practitioners, two advanced care paramedics, and access to STARS Air Ambulance.
“I was really disappointed because we only have one advanced care paramedic. The other one right now is on maternity leave,” Strykowski said in regard to Ottenbreit’s comments.
“So just like they say a doctor can’t work 24/7, he can’t work 24/7, and we only have two ambulances, so if one’s out on a transfer to another emergency, how are we going to get our child the care he needs, and all the other kids.”
STARS estimates the average flight to Preeceville is 80 minutes from Regina or Saskatoon, since it intersects their coverage zones.
Ottenbreit says staffing challenges at rural hospitals are not just an issue in Preeceville, but across the province. All they can do is keep recruiting.
“We continue to recruit, we have another new doctor coming in October,” he explained.
“We can’t just pull them off shelves. It takes a while to get them trained, to match them to the proper community.
Ottenbreit went on to say they can’t force physicians to stay in a community.
“We have communities offering housing, and these types of things, and we still face these challenges,” he said.
The Rural Health Minister added that in the past “five or six years” Preeceville has received 5 new doctors, but four have left.
Strykowski says she and her family are tired of being told to wait for the emergency room to reopen.
“We need to be somewhere where there’s a hospital. So that means leaving our school, our jobs, and our family,” she said with tears running down her cheeks.