PUBLIC NOTICE: Health and Social Service Update – Service levels for September 11th, 2023

Public Notice

(Yellowknife, September 8, 2023) – The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is providing notice to residents about service levels in Yellowknife and preparations that are ongoing for further service ramp up post-evacuation as part of our recovery and resumption of services.

This update is intended to show service levels as of September 11th. Service capacity percentages are being provided where we are able as an expectation setting measures for the public. These numbers are based on best estimates of service levels informed by staffing levels, appointment volumes, or bed counts.

As we return to services, increased use of surgical face masks may be required temporarily in NTHSSA Clinical Areas: NTHSSA will be encouraging masking in facilities for a period of time after return in an effort to reduce the impacts of respiratory viruses on our workforce and ability to deliver services. It is expected that respiratory viruses will be on the increase heading into fall and a mass-migration of residents from areas in southern Canada makes masking a smart choice and simple thing we can do to assist in preserving health care capacity as we ramp up services. People may see more health care providers masking and asking for masking in the next few weeks to achieve this goal.  

It is important to check back often for service levels. Services are positioned to ramp up with changes to levels expected often.








Outpatient / Specialist /Prenatal  Appointments /Diagnostics  in  Yellowknife



Bookings for outpatient services will resume during the week of September 11th.  Appointments will be rescheduled based on external support availability (boarding homes, scheduled flights) and system capacity. As usual, virtual appointments will be booked to facilitate timely consultations where appropriate.

Medical travel into Yellowknife for outpatient appointments will resume as soon as medical boarding facility and hotels operations are re-established, likely later in the week of Sept 11.

Please have patience as we work to re-book cancelled appointments from the evacuation period, and to schedule new appointments for those who are awaiting new referrals or follow ups.  Non-urgent bookings may be delayed.

Urgent medical travel may be directed to other sites in the territory or Alberta



Medical Travel Appointments Scheduled for Edmonton

Starting September 11th residents who are currently evacuated and have a scheduled Medical Travel appointment outside of the NWT during the week of September 11-15th should contact the clinic where their appointment referral originated to confirm their appointment and review evacuee supports and/or initiate medical travel benefits.    



Office of Client Experience, System Navigation, and Indigenous Patient Advocates

Closed in: Hay River, Fort Smith

Navigation services, located in Yellowknife but providing service territory-wide, will be available starting September 11th, 2023.



Stanton Territorial Hospital Emergency Department

Normal service levels will be maintained as a priority service, however acute care inpatient services will be extremely limited.

This means patients with higher levels of complexity that cannot be safely accommodated will be stabilized for transfer.

Transfers for admission or some urgent diagnostics from within the NWT may be accepted subject to availability of appropriate resources.  Patients who do not require admission are not generally accepted at this time due to limited supports for medical travel in Yellowknife.



Inpatient Acute Care Unit

Reduced - A limited number of inpatient acute care beds to accommodate lower complexity emergency presentations are being opened. Patient type and acuity levels that can be admitted reflect the available nursing and physician resources.

Transfer to another facility may be required if the patient care needs or volume surpass capacity. 

10/25 beds


Surgical services & Inpatient Surgical Unit

Reduced - emergency surgical services only. Most patients that have non-ICU level post-surgical care needs will be cared for within the 10-bed combined acute care bed capacity on the Medicine unit but some patients’ care needs may warrant transfer to another facility before or after their surgery.



Surgical day procedures (Endoscopy)

Reduced to Yellowknife residents due to lack of medical boarding home capacity and ability to provide medical travel, with capacity increasing as these external supports are increased into next week.

Starting September 7th will have capacity for urgent/emergent Endoscopy only.

On September 11th will begin coordination and booking of endoscopy consultations, and teaching and by end of week, scheduled procedures will occur.




Re-opening as of Monday, September 11th. Those requiring this service will be contacted to establish their treatment schedule.




Re-opening as of Wednesday, September 13th. Yellowknife residents will be contacted to establish their treatment schedule.



Intensive Care Unit

Reduced – A limited number of ICU beds available.

Patients requiring ICU admission will be assessed on a case by case basis in consideration of available nursing and physician resources. Some patient’ care needs may warrant transfer to another facility.



Extended Care

Closed, residents transferred to southern facilities.



Psychiatry Unit

Reduced – limited capacity starting in the evening of September 7th, with 5 psychiatry inpatient beds.

Stanton Emergency Department retains its usual capacity for local urgent assessments of psychiatric emergencies.



Pediatrics Unit

Reduced – The emergency department has full capacity for assessment of pediatric patients. For pediatric patients requiring specialized inpatient pediatric, most patients will require transfer to other facilities. A small number of low acuity pediatric admissions may be accepted on the general inpatient unit, on a case-by- case basis.

Most pediatric patients requiring admission will be cared for in the emergency department, and assessed for transfer to another facility. 



Obstetrics Unit

Reduced – emergency only; urgent care of pregnant individuals, including laboring will be provided in the Emergency Department 

We continue to recommend that any individuals who are 33 weeks or beyond should not yet return to Yellowknife.

Pregnant individuals remaining in NWT communities who would usually be referred to Yellowknife for prenatal services in advance of delivery (usually at about 36-37 weeks of pregnancy), will instead be referred to Edmonton for planned delivery there, as they reach that point in their pregnancy, until further notice.

Prenatal medical records can be faxed, a process and contact for this is published on the NTHSSA website.



Lab and Diagnostic Imaging


STH Lab and DI services will be operating at full capacity starting September 9th.

Normal Outpatient hours will also resume

Monday to Friday 8:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Yellowknife Primary Care Laboratory will resume outpatient collection services on September 18th 09:00 am.

Patients located in NWT communities outside of Yellowknife will continue to have access to diagnostic tests in their home communities. Medical travel to Yellowknife for diagnostic testing remains limited until medical boarding home and hotel accommodations are available.




Indigenous Wellness Program

On-site services to resume as of Monday, September 11th.



Primary Care

Reduced – Same Day access and rescheduled appointments at both clinic locations 0830 -1600. Call (867) 767-9294 for Same Day appointments.



Public Health

Open – Full services available. Appointments rescheduled.



Home Care

Open – Full services available.



Community Counseling (Adult, Child and Youth & Mental Health Nursing)

Reduced - Open for limited same-day appointments from 0900-1500. Remote support available. Details on supports available here.



Rehab (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, audiology, and speech language pathology)

Outpatient Services: Resumed Cancelled appointments will be called to rebook. Routine appointments commence September 11th. Reduced capacity for appointments for OT, PT and SLP due to staffing vacancies.

Inpatient services: Open

Outpatient: 80%





Sobering Centre

Open for overnight stays.



Day Shelter

Open – full services including meals, bathrooms, etc.


*NOTE: The sobering and day centre were expected to open at 50% capacity based on staffing outlook, and this was reflected in the September 4-6 update. Staffing was better than anticipated and full services resumed on the 6th.

Patient/Client Notification
Individuals who are impacted by service closures of dialysis, chemotherapy, IV therapy, and obstetrics (33 weeks of pregnancy and beyond or at risk of complications) will be directly contacted with information. When evacuee supports end for these individuals, they will transition to medical travel. Cancer Navigation Services remain available.

During the week of September 11th, dialysis, chemotherapy and IV therapy patients accessing services in Yellowknife will be able to access services. These individuals are being contacted directly.

Further Updates
We remain committed to keeping residents informed and will continue to assess our service levels daily as the situation unfolds. Any service changes will be announced on the NTHSSA website and via our Facebook.

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