12/11/2013 10:41 EST | Updated 02/10/2014 05:59 EST

Pediatric wards at Regina hospitals to merge; consolidation starts in January

REGINA - The board of the Regina Qu'Appelle Health region has voted to consolidate Regina's pediatric wards into one unit.

It means the Pasqua hospital will lose its pediatric ward and the merged unit will be at Regina General.

The transition will begin Jan. 6, and is scheduled to be finished by June.

The recommendation on the merger was made after months of consultations headed by Sharon Garrett, the executive director of women's and children's health for the health region, and Dr. Juliet Soper, head of pediatrics.

The health region says there has been a declining number of children being admitted to both of Regina's hospitals.

It says, on average, the General sees 17 pediatric patients in its 26 beds every day while the Pasqua sees three patients in its 12 beds.

Three recommendations about the move, based on talks with families of children who have received care in the last five years, staff and other health regions, were presented to the board.

One was to establish an area for children who require a high level of care without the need for an intensive care unit.

Any patients requiring sub-specialists or intensive care would be transported to a single, provincial site in Saskatoon.

Part of the recommendation is to ensure support is available to transport critically ill children to the Saskatoon site.

To aid in the transport of sick children, the Ministry of Health will be amending its critical care ambulance transfer policy to cover the cost of transferring critically ill or injured children between the two cities.

Some surgeries would also be moved to the Saskatoon site in the event that intensive care is required afterwards.

Renovations will be required at the General to accommodate a high-acuity area, changing two large rooms to four single rooms, and adding one double room.

The $1 million project would be paid for by the Hospitals of Regina Foundation and take five to six months to complete ending with 18 single rooms, 28 total beds for pediatric care.