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‘We are in panic mode’: Carberry emergency department closes following staff shortage

Residents in and around Carberry, Man. are in desperate need of doctors after the town’s emergency department halted its services until further notice.

“We are in panic mode right now,” Mayor Ray Muirhead told CBC on Saturday.

Carberry Health Centre’s emergency services closed indefinitely on Friday, Sept. 1 due to a shortage of qualified staff, Brian Schoonbaert, CEO of Prairie Mountain Health, said in a Saturday statement. 

The health region, responsible for health care delivery in southwest Manitoba, continues to struggle with staff vacancies, staff leaves, and vacations, he added.

While a doctor working at the health centre on a four-year term finished his last day of work on Friday, another retired doctor who went back to work to help out will be leaving at the end of the month, Muirhead said.

“All of our focus right now is on health care,” Muirhead said, adding that not having a doctor also limits the work nurse practitioners can do.

About 6,000 people combined live in the town and the rural municipality of North Cypress-Langford, said Muirhead.

Add that to local potato farmers and their employees, nearby Hutterite colonies and those living in Swan Lake First Nation, and you have a lot of people potentially relying on the health centre’s emergency services for care, he added.

“I don’t think it’s a hard sell to realize we need a doctor in Carberry and we need one now,” he said.

Carberry is also minutes away from the Highway 5 and Highway 1 intersection, where more than a dozen passengers died in a fiery bus crash last June, Muirhead added.

Muirhead said the town council and the rural municipality council will be meeting with Prairie Mountain Health on Friday.

Meanwhile, the health region continues to try to recruit staff in hopes of reopening the emergency department as soon as possible, Schoonbaert said.

Those needing emergency services can call the health centre to be directed to the nearest emergency department, he added. Shared Health ambulance services will continue to operate in Carberry and surrounding areas.

“If there are any doctors out there that want to move to a beautiful little community, we’d be more than happy to welcome you,” said Muirhead.

He hopes whichever party elected in the provincial election this fall does something about healthcare in Manitoba.

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