Birthing services temporarily paused at Inuvik hospital due to staffing shortages

Inuvik Regional Hospital. (CBC)

The pause is expected to last until Sunday and emergency services will still be available

Labour and delivery services in Inuvik are temporarily paused until Sunday, due to staffing shortages at the hospital.

Emergency birthing services at Inuvik Regional Hospital will still be available, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority wrote in a news release on Thursday.  Pre- and post-natal assessments and care will also stay open.

“This service reduction is related to temporary, sudden, and unexpected significant reduction of available qualified obstetric registered nursing staff.”

The release said that individuals who were planning to give birth in Inuvik, and who are at least at week 36 of pregnancy, have been contacted and new arrangements have been made to transfer them to Yellowknife.

Under five people have been impacted, said the NTHSSA.

Those who are under 36 weeks pregnant are not expected to be impacted.

Staff callouts, nursing agencies contacted

The release said that the NTHSSA has put out callouts for staff with the required skills to come to Inuvik. It said nursing agencies have also been contacted.

“To date, these efforts have yielded limited staff to assist but not enough to avoid this service reduction.”

This isn’t the first time the territory has had to temporarily close a birthing unit.

The obstetrics unit at Stanton Territorial Hospital was closed for months starting in late 2021 due to staffing shortages.

The NTHSSA said since that time, the territory has been reliant on agency nursing staff “as it remains difficult to recruit this specialty of nursing to the N.W.T.”

This is just the latest issue plaguing the N.W.T.’s health facilities in the past two weeks.

Stanton has been operating over capacity, partially due to an influx in influenza, COVID-19 and RSV. It also comes as the primary care clinic in downtown Yellowknife slowly reopens after a flooding incident on Saturday.

Then on Wednesday, the Frame Lake clinic closed down due to a heating issue in the building.

The NTHSSA said it would provide an update if the birthing services suspension is extended.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: It’s ‘weird busy’ this summer, says Yukon shop owner. Tourists came back but the workers didn’t, CBC News

Russia: Critical workforce shortage grips Russia’s North, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden, Norway and Finland cooperating to attract workers to the far north, Radio Sweden

Luke Caroll, CBC News

For more news from Canada's North visit CBC North.

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