Saskatchewan Party MLA says temporary rural ER closures bit of an overreaction

REGINA — A member of Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe's government says the decision to temporarily close rural emergency rooms, including one in his constituency, was an overreaction to COVID-19 and could have been better communicated with residents.

Longtime Saskatchewan Party politician Greg Brkich says people in Davidson, a town halfway between Regina and Saskatoon, were willing to see their ER closed if needed. But he questions why it was done when COVID-19 case numbers in the region remained low.

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The health authority says acute-care admissions and emergency services were suspended in Davidson and 11 other community hospitals to ensure there is enough capacity if the novel coronavirus surges.

Health officials reported two new infections in the province Monday.

Most of the active cases are in the far north, with none in Regina and six in Saskatoon.

Brkich says he understood that the closure would only happen if there was an emergency situation.

"They kind of a little bit overreacted," he said of the decision in an interview Monday.

It's important to be cautious, he says, but without emergency services residents could be in jeopardy because the next nearest facility is about an hour away.

Brkich says he's raised the issue with the minister of rural and remote health and would like to see a timeline for when the Davidson hospital will reopen.

At the time of the closure, Davidson's mayor expressed concern the town was given less than 48-hours notice.

The health authority has said the decision to temporarily shutter the ERs was communicated with mayors earlier than that, but exact dates of the closures weren't provided.

"Sometimes in Regina and Saskatoon, they kind of forget about communications," said Brkich.

Saskatchewan has a total 634 cases of COVID-19. Of those, 546 people have recovered and seven people have died.

Six people remain in hospital, with four of them in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.

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