Those planning to give birth at Stanton Territorial Hospital between Dec. 10 and Feb. 21 will have to travel to Edmonton for care, the territorial health authority announced, Nov. 22.

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) announced the temporary suspension of labour and delivery services at Stanton Territorial Hospital, though it says emergency delivery services will remain available.

Staffing challenges around nursing, in particular, mean that Stanton is not able to “ensure adequate personnel to operate the full volume of birthing services in a safe manner,” a statement from the NTHSSA reads.

“Ensuring patient safety and quality of our services is the most important thing to everyone at Stanton and throughout the NTHSSA,” CEO Kimberly Riles said. “These are difficult circumstances and decisions and we empathize with everyone whose birth plan is now changing, however we want people who are impacted to know that at the core of this decision is the safety of them and their newborn child.”

Scheduled births in Inuvik, midwife-supported births in Fort Smith, and services in Hay River, will not be impacted, according to the NTHSSA.

The health authority says those who will be affected by the announcement will be contacted by phone for further details and will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

The NTHSSA advised it will continually re-assess the staffing issue which could mean either earlier access or further delay to access to non-urgent labour and delivery services in Yellowknife.

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