Health centre reducing services due to staff shortages

The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority (HRHSSA) issued a second notice in a week on March 18 stating that staff shortages will result in a reduction of beds available.

“In order to continue safe quality patient care with required staffing levels and physician support, the Hay River Regional Health Centre will reduce in-patient capacity from 12 beds to six, effective April 1, 2022,” stated CEO Erin Griffiths in a March 18 news release.

“As a result, more patients may be transferred out of community for care and treatment.”

Griffiths said from March 19 to 28, the medical clinic will be down to one nurse practitioner and one family physician.

“A qualified emergency room physician will not be available during this time,” she said. “All residents who present to the emergency room will be triaged and assessed by our nursing staff, who will consult with a physician at Stanton Territorial Hospital over the phone.”

The health authority is expecting an exodus of employees over the next six months — registered nurses among them. The departure of workers is largely due to personal reasons: some wanting to be closer to family, some retiring and others seeking travel nursing opportunities.

Griffiths said the health centre was preparing for a temporary reduction in services from its 250 employees. Much of this is due to challenges and pressures faced by healthcare providers during Covid-19 nationally and in the territory, she said.

The health centre is recruiting for a variety of positions from occupational and physio-therapists to social workers, registered nurses, family physicians and laboratory technicians.

Rare freezing of water main on Vale Island

The Town of Hay River last week reported experiencing a rare frozen water main between the MTS syncrolift property and the town’s Vale Island trucked water fill station.

Senior administrative officer Glenn Smith said that the frozen water line directly impacted two businesses and six residential properties that had to switch temporarily to trucked water delivery.

“Typically water lines can be thawed fairly easily through specialized thawing equipment,” Smith said, adding that it is usually a property owner’s responsibility to first call a plumber to “diagnose, determine location of the freeze, and attempt to thaw.

“However, if the freeze is on the Town side of the property line, the Town is responsible for the costs of addressing.”

Smith said the town believes it is the first time the Vale Island water main has frozen and is likely attributable to deeper-than-usual ground-frost levels for this time of year.

“Groundwater levels have been extremely high over the last several years causing havoc on Town infrastructure year round,” he said.

“The saturated ground is more susceptible to freezing and heaving.”

First rare earth ore to be shipped south in April

David Connelly, vice president of strategy and corporate affairs for Cheetah Resources reported to town council that the company’s first year operating the Nechalacho rare earths mine led to 500 tonnes being shipped through the Port of Hay River.

Connelly said at the March 21 regular meeting that the bagged ore will be shipped out of town by rail and truck to a processing plant in Saskatoon during the week of April 18.

“500 tons isn’t a lot and it was not meant to be a lot but we … wanted to learn our lessons with small amounts rather than large amounts,” Connelly explained. “The goal for next year is 5000 tonnes of ore or concentrate shipped from Nechalacho to the port of a river and then throughout the year to be trans-shipped either by truck or rail to take it down as needed to Saskatoon.”

Second annual Pat Bobinski race being held

The second annual Pat Bobinski Memorial Ski Race is scheduled to take place this March 26-27 weekend at the Hay River Ski Club.

The event, which began last year in memory of Patrick Alexander Bobinski, or PABs, biathlon coach and renowned volunteer at the club. It is the club’s year-end celebration, replacing the former Ptub Ski Races, which was discontinued in 2017.

Registration is available for the event up until Thursday (March 24) and times, age categories and distances for races can be found on the Hay River Ski Club Facebook page.

A classic ski race will take place on Saturday and the freestyle race and fun sprint are on Sunday.

There will be a banquet at 6:30 p.m on Saturday. Tickets are $15.

Diamond Jenness grads will be running a canteen during the races.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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