Health and Social Services Service Impacts Expected Over Summer Months due to Staffing Levels

Public Notice

(Yellowknife, June 22, 2022) - NWT health and social services authorities are notifying residents that throughout the summer months low staffing levels across a number of areas may lead to service reductions or closures.

At this time the following impacts are expected:

  • Starting July 5th Hay River Health and Social Services Authority will be moving to intermittent physician services in the community. Physician coverage between July and September is not guaranteed and at times where a physician is not present in community patients will access care through nursing staff, virtual services with the support of a local nurse to triage, or in cases where escalation of care or physician services are required patients may be moved for care. Ongoing contingency planning aims to minimize service reductions for residents of Hay River and recruitment is ongoing.
  • Starting June 27th Laboratory and Diagnostic Imaging services at the Yellowknife Primary Care Centre laboratory site will be closed until September 5th, 2022. Staffing this service has been an ongoing issue and impacts have been announced as they presented. Constant intermittent closures have added frustration for staff, providers, and patients. During this extended closure the focus will be on assessing our service model and staff recruitment. Current hours for Stanton Lab can be found here.

The NTHSSA is working to proactively identify any further service level impacts through a region-by-region assessment of service levels for the period of July through September and will communicate any further detail around service reductions or closures when this assessment is complete.

The above impacts are most immediate; however staffing levels across the entire health and social services system are strained. Residents were recently reminded of what they can do to help in a public notice regarding reduced Primary Care appointment availability in Yellowknife. Shortages are being further impacted by difficulties in hiring temporary or locum staff due to high competition for these individuals nationally and pressures being felt in health and social services systems across the country. In particular Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, and allied health professionals such as Medical Laboratory Technologists are areas where hiring for indeterminate resident staff and locum and temporary staff are presenting significant challenges.

A collaborative approach to mitigating service impacts is being taken between health and social services authorities in the NWT, with efforts including:

  • Examining all service impacts and determining if there are mitigation measures within the system that can be taken to avoid reduction or closure.
  • Where reduction or closure is inevitable; resources will be deployed to reduce the impact on the system as a whole.
  • Treating all resources where possible as system resources to support coverage, including virtual coverage and physical redeployment of staff.
  • Continued focus on marketing the NWT as a great place to live and work and pursuing hiring of full-time staff through the PracticeNWT program.
  • Outreach to new and past locum or temporary staff to fill gaps in the interim.

Residents will be provided notice of service changes with as much advance notice possible. In the event of service reductions or closures residents will continue to have access to care through the NWT’s medical travel and MedResponse system to ensure those who need urgent and emergent care are able to access it in the nearest community to their home.

As always; residents can check the status of service levels at www.nthssa.ca/service-levels.

 

For Media inquiries:

 

David Maguire
Manager, Communications
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
T. 867-446-3084
E. david_maguire@gov.nt.ca