Communities across the NWT are facing health service reductions thanks to the territory’s ongoing healthcare staffing shortage — and more service reductions may be on the way.

As of Thursday, July 14, there were emergency health services only in Fort McPherson, Sachs Harbour and Fort Providence, and reduced services in Hay River Reserve, Fort Smith, Norman Wells, Tulita, Behchokǫ and Fort Resolution, according to a statement from Minister of Health and Social Services Julie Green.

In Yellowknife, Stanton Territorial Hospital will be reduced to emergency services only from July 18 to 22.

In Hay River, the medical clinic is operating on reduced services, patient beds have been closed, and “the emergency department is being supported by a (nurse) practitioner,” according to Green.

“Attracting health practitioners to the North has been a consistent challenge,” says Green. “The pandemic, combined with a national shortage of health professionals, means we do not have the staff available to maintain all healthcare services at this time. This is creating service disruptions in the territory, especially over the summer months when staff are taking hard-earned time off.”

“Burnout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to the resignation, retirement or reduced work hours of many health professionals across the country and in the NWT. Many of these people made huge sacrifices to help keep us safe during the pandemic, and now they are tired,” the minister added.

Green said a task force comprising representatives from multiple departments and health authorities is working to address the issue.

“However, we may see more triaging of care and longer waits for non-urgent issues,” she advised. “We continue to see challenges in hiring, and as such, service disruptions will continue.”

On top of Covid-related burnout, Green said acts of aggression against healthcare workers have been on the rise.

“We understand there are many frustrations related to access, and we ask residents to please have consideration for the staff who are doing their best to meet the needs of you and all residents. Please remain patient as they are doing what they can to ensure you receive the highest quality healthcare possible.”

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  1. Stop blaming the pandemic for your incompetence minister green. You’ve single handedly destroyed the health care system we did have