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Hay River health authority upbeat about physician staffing

The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority provided an update on its operations to town council on July 28.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority says things are looking good for the recruitment of locum physicians for the remainder of the year.

In an update to town council on July 28, CEO Erin Griffiths said the authority has been doing "really well" with recruiting physicians and nurse-practitioners for at least six months.

"Working with our partner the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, we've been very successful in recruiting physicians and locum physicians for the summer months," she said.

And Griffiths anticipates that will continue for the remainder of the year.

"We're now booking for November, December and looking at Christmas coverage," she told the online meeting of council.

Griffiths noted that a lot of new and younger locum physicians are coming to Hay River.

"They're really enjoying their time in Hay River," she said, adding it is expected that many of them will be interested in returning.

Brian Willows, the public administrator for the health authority and also a town councillor, said there had been concerns about staffing a year ago.

"So we've made some pretty significant improvements," he said.

Mayor Kandis Jameson said it was great to hear the positive news about staffing.

Griffiths noted the health authority is also "up staffing" to get ready for a second wave of Covid-19 anticipated in September or October.

"So we are prepared for when a second wave does come," she said.

The additional temporary employees will include registered nurses, long-term-care aides, licensed practical nurses and support workers for such things as dietary services, housekeeping and laundry.

Some of them will be working until the end of December, but a majority until the end of March, said Griffiths. "Not knowing what our future is with the second wave of Covid, we want to be prepared for that."