Construction complete for new Regina Urgent Care Centre

The much-anticipated Regina Urgent Care Centre is now 100 per cent complete, and now the task is to get the facility up and running to see patients this summer.

Dignitaries were on hand to take a look at the completed facility at 1320 Albert Street. The facility had been under construction since spring of 2022, with Graham Construction contracted to to the build. The next step now is for Saskatchewan Health Authority to get all the staff hired and in place, add the furniture, and to do the necessary quality control and installation and testing of equipment done so the facility can start to accept patients sometime this summer.

Premier Scott Moe at the event marking the completion of the Regina Urgent Care Centre. Photo by John Cairns

This is the first of two Urgent Care Centres in the province, the other to be built in Saskatoon and in partnership with Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation.

“I think it means a great deal for the services that can be offered starting in Regina and expanding into Saskatoon, and then I think there will be a reassessment done and an eye to expand it beyond that,” said Premier Scott Moe to reporters at the event. He explained the Urgent Care Centre is there to fill a need.

“Really what is happening here is trying to fill some gaps that we have in healthcare on two fronts. One is that urgent care, that gap between the emergency room and your primary care physician or nurse practitioner that you might be seeing. And you see that gap being filled on this side of the facility and with the people ultimately working in it. The second is really starting to bring us towards better access in to our mental health and addiction treatment.”

The mental health and addictions unit will provide screening and assessment as well as counselling available. This centre would also make the connections with other services available to help with recovery and treatment. This new service is in line with the Mental Health and Addiction strategy that the province released last fall, with over 200 recovery beds built in the province and a target of over 500 recovery beds.

As for the urgent care side, the venue is set to handle those health care situations that need immediate attention but which are not life threatening. Examples include addressing minor injuries like sprains or broken bones, treatment of infections or rashes, and dealing with situations that might requiring suturing or a cast, or require the use of diagnostic imaging. 

The hope is this new Urgent Care Centre will address the pressure seen at hospital emergency departments in Regina. The thinking is these urgent care cases can be diverted away from hospital rooms, leaving the hospitals to address the most serious and life threatening health care emergencies. This would also cut down on the waiting that urgent care patients might endure at a hospital where the more serious emergencies are addressed first.

“I think it’s going to make a tremendous difference in access for people that need urgent care, because they won’t be waiting for an appointment in primary care if they do require urgent care, and yet they won’t be triaged behind people that do need treatment for life-threatening emergencies in an emergency department,” said the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Will.

“So I think for somebody living in Regina knowing that this service is available to them, they could make that choice to make more timely care here at the urgent care centre.”

Having an urgent care centre as an option is something that may take getting used to for the public, who may be used to taking their sprains or broken bones to an emergency room. 

The plan is to roll out communications to the public closer to opening day, mailing out information to Regina residents about what services will be available.

One of the challenges will be ensuring the new urgent care centre is fully staffed, given some of the obstacles seen in the province in filling jobs requiring health care professionals in recent years.

The urgent care centre will be staffed by 125 full time equivalencies, according to the SHA. Will said they have started the process of posting and hiring staff to work at the new facility and he said there has been strong interest. Nursing has been the initial priority for recruiting into those positions, and they are in the process of interviewing for positions; some hires have been made already.

There is not a specific date set yet for when the Centre will open, though Will said they hope to open “as soon as we possibly can.” They want to not only get all the staff hired but also to train them and get them familiar to the flows of treatment that will happen at the facility, Will said. He also said they are in the process of installing equipment and calibrating that.

“it’ll be a little bit of a learning curve obviously being the first urgent care centre of its kind here in Saskatchewan,” Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “I think we’re expecting, and this is our best projection, we’re anticipating upwards of 20,000 additional visits per year, which is the initial projections… we think that will have a significant impact on helping to reduce some of the numbers and the wait times, and just frankly the volumes running up in the emergency departments we’re experiencing in Regina and we’re experiencing also in Saskatoon.”

Part of the reason they are doing this, Hindley said, is to “create additional access points for health care for patients, and we’re trying as best as we can to have the right patient in front of the right healthcare provider at the right time and load-levelling some of those access points in the system.”

According to the province’s news release, the government has committed $9.82 million in the 2024-25 budget to the Urgent Care Centre and ongoing funding of $17.82 million annually for physicians, staffing and non-salary, as well as IMIT operations. 

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