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“If you break a bone and you need a cast, it’s not life threatening, but you certainly can’t wait until tomorrow to go to your doctor’s office,” said Reiter.
The centres would be open 24 hours each day, seven days a week, and staffed by doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, pharmacists, social workers and addictions workers, among others.
Reiter said the centres won’t be a “panacea” for pressures on emergency rooms, but will help to alleviate growing pressures. He noted that a “significant” number of patients who end up in emergency rooms are at the lower end of the triage scale.
“The number of emergency room visits has been greatly increasing over the past number of years, and your government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority have responded in a number of ways,” said Reiter.
“Our emergency departments are very busy,” he added, “and they’re busy in part because of patients who might be better off seeking treatment in a different environment.”
He framed concerns about pressures in Saskatchewan’s emergency rooms as a symptom of the province’s population growth. He said the government is counting on that to continue.
The urgent care centres would also provide mental health and addictions services like assessment, brief therapies and prescription services to treat people in crisis or at risk of “rapid deterioration” from mental health issues. That wouldn’t include suicidal tendencies that put people at direct risk of taking their own lives.