The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority wants people to continue seeking medical care, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Visits to the city’s emergency departments and urgent care centres were down more than 11 percent in March, while preliminary numbers suggest a similar decline throughout April.
“Winnipeg, like many other jurisdictions across Canada and internationally, has seen a decrease in the number of visits to our emergency departments and urgent care centres since the first COVID case was declared in our community,” said Vickie Kaminski, WRHA president and CEO, in a release.
Similar to patient volumes, EMS (ambulance) arrivals and emergency/urgent care wait times were both down in March compared with February, and with March 2019.
“There are likely several factors at play that are leading to this decrease in visits, but we want to make sure that people deliberately avoiding seeking care isn’t one of them.”
The WRHA says although some services have been scaled back or postponed, health officials are reassuring patients that there is no need to avoid seeking treatment for urgent and emergency issues.
Winnipeg hospitals have been taking precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, implementing measures for both staff, patients and visitors.
“We want Winnipeggers to know that it’s safe to come to the hospital if you need to, and it is ok to come to the hospital if you need to,” Kaminski added. “No one should feel bad or guilty for seeking care, and we don’t want anyone to feel unsafe seeking care either.”
Beginning Monday, May 4, non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures will resume, while therapeutic and health care services are permitted to reopen. On April 24, the province restarted elective surgeries and other non-emergent health services.