A man who receives dialysis at Seven Oaks Hospital is voicing concerns over the potential impact of closing the emergency department to make way for an urgent care centre.

Barry Kiriluk has been on hemodialysis for more than 25 years. He believes himself and the hundreds of others getting the treatment at Seven Oaks are going to be drastically affected with the conversion, coming later this month.

“As a hemodialysis patient at Seven Oaks Dialysis, the health minister has not informed me what will happen to hemodialysis patients when they require more care than the dialysis unit can offer,” Kiriluk told CTV News. “With no emergency room at Seven Oaks Hospital, my life and over 300 lives are being put into jeopardy.”

Kiriluk said he has contacted the premier and the health minister about his concerns, but is told the emergency department is being closed based on recommendations made in the Peachey report.

Tuesday the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced the conversion to urgent care will happen on July 22nd, not Sept. 20th as originally planned. WHRA officials said the decision to move the date up was based on nursing and physician vacancies as well as patient safety.

“This way we can ensure that we’re providing safe quality care within the urgent care setting at Seven Oaks as it converts and that the rest of the system is able to manage acute patients throughout the system as we transition,” said Krista Williams, chief operating officer of the WRHA.

The Seven Oaks Hospital is also home to the Manitoba Renal Program that has three dialysis units.

As of June 2019, the hospital provides in-centre dialysis for 330 patients, the renal program serves an additional 194 home-dialysis patients, as well as 1,860 stage one to five chronic kidney disease patients.

Ricardo Lobato de Faria, chief medical officer for Seven Oaks Hospital, said in a statement that patient safety is the top priority, adding the hospital is working to enhance and improve its code response model.

“We expect these enhancements to be in place by this fall,” he said.

“It’s important to emphasize there will be no disruption or reduction of service for any of our patients, including those receiving dialysis.“

 A memo sent to staff Tuesday morning by the WRHA, obtained by CTV news by a staff member, mentions dialysis.

It reads, “In recognition of SOGH’s continued role in the treatment of renal patients, including medically complex patients requiring more intensive treatment, a three-bed renal pod option is being developed in collaboration with site clinicians. The renal pod would serve renal patients from SOGH as well as those from other hospitals in Winnipeg.”

The memo also mentions that along with the renal pod option, a physician assistant would be there to support the urgent care doctors to respond to codes.

“We will still have an urgent care,” said Williams at a press conference Tuesday. “We still have emergency-trained physicians and also staff available to manage patients.”

She added it is important for patients to be at the appropriate hospital for their needs.

“If it’s a non-life threatening but same-day kind of needs the urgent care is well suited for those types of conditions included for the renal patients. They will continue to be able to have those services,” she said.

However, Williams said there are going to be times when the needs of a patient will exceed the resources at an urgent care centre.

“We could ensure that we would work to transfer that patient to the most appropriate environment to take care of them,” she said.