The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spent time Monday morning clarifying a notice sent out to emergency room doctors and urgent care doctors last week.

“For all the physicians who are currently working at HSC, St. Boniface, the Grace, Seven Oaks, Victoria. They can keep their existing jobs. We’re not asking them to reapply. There’s been some misunderstanding about that or misinterpretation,” said WRHA Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brock Wright.

Last week, a notice was sent to ER doctors and urgent care doctors at Winnipeg’s four community hospitals—Seven Oaks, Victoria, Grace and Concordia, to officially notify them about changes coming to Winnipeg’s health system. Misericordia Urgent Care Centre is scheduled to shut down in October, and instead become a Community IV Clinic.

In part, the notice read “Physicians at various community hospitals are being provided notice that, because of the changes being made to the emergency department/urgent care centre in which they provide services, their position will no longer exist at that facility.”

“If you are an ED/UC physician providing services at one of the community hospitals within the WRHA, you are invited to take part in the process described below with a view to being considered for a different position consistent with your qualifications and experience.”

On Monday, Dr. Wright said in retrospect, he thought the letters could’ve been written more clearly. It was sent to all ER and urgent care doctors who are part of the same collective agreement to notify them of the changes to come, but the message was really meant for urgent care doctors at Misericordia and ER doctors at the Victoria General Hospital.

“We’re interested in knowing particularly from the Misericordia physicians and the Victoria Hospital physicians what their interests are going forward,” Dr. Wright said.

“Some may want to work in other facilities. Urgent care or emergency facilities. Or they may want to explore other opportunities for work.”

Dr. Wright said not all doctors may be accommodated into the emergency department system. For example, a doctor who has spent most of his or her career at an urgent care centre may not have the skills to transition into a trauma centre such as HSC, he explained.

“For those that don’t or can’t be accommodated, then we will work with them to fill other essential physician roles within the system,” Dr. Wright said.

Doctors Manitoba, the body representing physicians in the province, sent its own letter to the WRHA seeking clarification that physicians with positions at Victoria, Seven Oaks and Grace do not need to “reapply” for their own position.

Dr. Wright said Manitoba Health and the WRHA are continuing to work w‎ith Doctors Manitoba to develop a process to support affected emergency and urgent care physicians at Winnipeg's community hospitals, allowing them to transition to other positions of interest for which they are qualified.