Thompson got a couple of pieces of welcome news on the health care front last week.
Second chronologically but first in order of importance was the news that reconstruction of three of the Thompson General Hospital’s four operating rooms that were damaged by water last June is now complete. Beginning March 9, elective surgeries and procedures such as appendectomies can once again be completed in Thompson, as well as scheduled C-sections. Since June, only life- and limb-saving surgeries and emergency c-sections have been done in the one operating room that remained usable. And while the shutdown of the three other operating rooms for more than nine months was definitely a dark cloud for people in Thompson, particularly those who had surgeries scheduled in June or July of last year, the silver lining is that the reconstruction project enabled the operating rooms to be upgraded to current infection control standards, making them as up-to-date as any operating room in the province.
A few days before the completed operating rooms were opened up for tours by city officials, the media, hospital staff and others, the province and the University of Manitoba medical school announced that Thompson was being added as a site where graduating doctors could choose to do family medicine residencies to complete their medical training. It is difficult to attract doctors to Thompson and also difficult to keep them. While there is no guarantee that any new doctor who completes a family medicine residency in Thompson will choose to continue their career here, at least for the two years that they are doing the residency, there will be an additional medical professional working in the community to deal with residents’ health concerns. And who knows? if one one of them decides to stick around, they definitely wouldn’t be the first person who planned to come to Thompson for two years and ended up staying here much, much longer.
Even with the return of three additional usable operating rooms, and the option for new doctors to complete their family medicine residency in Thompson, the health care system locally, regionally and provincially is still far from perfect. But the fact that people who need to undergo routine surgeries and procedures will now be able to do so without leaving their home community, or the north, means that not only they but also the Northern Regional Health Authority will be saving money on transportation costs. For those people, and for expectant mothers who are at high risk of needing a c-section and had to go to Winnipeg weeks before their due date since last June just in case they went into labour, the availability of brand new operating rooms is a very big boost to their quality of life.