The province and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are pushing forward with plans to consolidate emergency services and close Concordia Hospital’s emergency department.

The province and WRHA announced the second phase in its major healthcare overhaul at a press conference Thursday morning.

Concordia Hospital’s emergency department is expected to shut down by June 2019. The hospital will continue its role with orthopedic surgery and focus on its role as a community hospital with rehabilitation services.

Lori Lamont, acting chief operating officer of the WRHA, wouldn’t say what might replace its ER as discussions are ongoing.

Seven Oaks Hospital’s emergency department will be converted into an urgent care centre by September 2019. The plan is to shift ER services from both hospitals to St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Centre once St. Boniface and HSC’s emergency departments undergo renovations and upgrades.

“We’re very pleased with how phase one has gone. We’re excited about phase two and we’re excited about the end result this is going to have for patients,” said Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba’s minister responsible for Health, Seniors and Active Living.

A decision was made to delay the closure of the Concordia ER and changes to Seven Oaks in part because of recommendations made in Wait Times Reduction Task Force Report.

“It wasn’t one single factor but multiple factors, and it’s more important that we get it right. Not necessarily that we get it done tomorrow,” said Lamont.

While the WRHA and the province are touting a 15 per cent decrease in ER wait times as a sign of success, the president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, Sandi Mowat, doesn’t believe more changes are needed.

“Remaining emergency rooms are reporting overcrowding and patients being treated in hallways as volumes have spiked beyond predicted levels. Some facilities are no longer replacing the first sick call, meaning patients receive less care while nurses are stretched even thinner,” Mowat said.

Mowat said nurses tell her they’re concerned about working long hours, working overtime, and being stretched too thin. And in return, Mowat believes patient care is suffering.

“How can anybody be getting optimal patient care when your staff that’s taking care of you is tired for every shift they’re coming to work on?” Mowat asked.