Pangnirtung health centre in northern Canada will be closed next month due to staff shortages

A file photo of Pangnirtung from 2013. The Nunavut government says Pangnirtung’s health centre will be temporarily closed next week due to staff shortages. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The health centre in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, will be temporarily closed next month for about one week, according to the Department of Health.

The closure, which is due to staff shortages, will last from August 1 to 7, according to a news release Monday.

It’s the second year in a row where a shortage of summer relief staff for Nunavut’s community health centres will force some of those centres to close or reduce services.

Nunavut’s Health department was dealing with a 50 per cent vacancy rate among its permanent nursing staff in June, spokesperson Chris Puglia said in an email last month.

While the health centre is closed, paramedics will be on site to respond to emergencies or provide life-threatening care the Monday news release said.

The department will also set up virtual health services to support residents, and calls to the health centre are set to be directed to those virtual support services. Calls could also be automatically forwarded to other communities, the release said.

Residents are warned of possible delays in getting care during this time, but callers are encouraged not to hang up. The department said support staff will be available by phone to assist with services such as filling prescriptions and medical travel.

Those in need of prescription refills should make arrangements ahead of the closure.

The department said service reductions or closures could change depending on staff availability. People can still arrange to get COVID- 19 vaccines by appointment.

The department said it’s working with government and territorial partners to “ensure Nunavummiut have access to necessary health services while addressing staff shortages.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: There’s a risk of people dying’ says Clyde River SAO as nursing shortage in Nunavut, Canada continues, The Canadian Press

Finland: Finland’s elder care needs funding boost to meet Nordic standards: researcher, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland to reduce services amidst staffing shortages in health care system, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Fewer people suffering strokes in Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Indigenous students in Alaska get hands-on medical experience at nursing camp, Alaska Public Media

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