The MLA for Borderland is confident Altona will have its emergency room department up and running, 24/7 by fall.

Josh Guenter admits the Altona hospital ER has struggled to provide consistent service to the community, but strongly believes the six-month reset will allow the RHA to bring ER services back to a reliable level.

"What we're doing now is stabilizing the workforce, recruitment of nurses is underway as we speak, we're working with the physicians and we're going to get back to a 24/7 emergency department within six months."

Altona has seen an exodus of nurses to other facilities in the region for the past several years but the situation seemed to come to a head over the past six months as the hospital began relying more 

Wab Kinew heavily on private agency nurses to fill shifts.

Southern Health has not released any details on how it intends to replenish its nursing ranks in Altona but Guenter says changes have already begun and more are coming to address the situation.

"Work is underway right now to recruit nurses, put new management in place and I believe a clinical resource nurse was hired a couple of weeks ago. So, the Altona hospital is vitally important, the catchment area requires a 24/7 emergency department, which is why we are rebuilding the team and the program for the community and surrounding area so they have the services they need now and into the future."

The RHA is planning a community town hall meeting for sometime in April to discuss the ER closure with local citizens and explain the details of its plan to get the emergency department functioning reliably.

Meanwhile, Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew feels the provincial government just waited too long to deal with the nursing shortage in Altona and was now forced to close it.

"To me, the Altona ER closure is a sign of a government that is being reactive instead of proactive when it comes to health care and the impact is on local folks who want to be able to know that the health care services they need are there for them close to home."

Kinew says the province may cite HR challenges as the issues behind the closure but they can't use that as an excuse. He says the province should have addressed those vacant nursing issues early on to prevent the situation from becoming a crisis.