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Fort Smith midwifery program scaled back ‘due to staffing levels’


Fort Smith’s midwifery program is being scaled back because the NWT’s health authority says it can’t find people to staff positions in the town.

From Tuesday, the regular midwifery service in Fort Smith will become “primary care or emergency-only,” the health authority said in a news release late on Friday.

That means “patients who would normally give birth in Fort Smith will be diverted to Yellowknife,” the health authority added.

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“This change is being put in place due to staffing levels and an inability to secure a continued level of two midwives who are fully oriented to the facilities and program in Fort Smith.”

Details of exactly how services will be scaled back, and what will remain available, were published to the health authority’s website.

The health authority said Fort Smith residents expecting to give birth after January 10 would receive an update about the changes and “regular medical travel supports.”

A return to the normal midwifery program will depend on the success of efforts to recruit more midwives, the news release concluded.

The NWT has plans to strengthen the midwifery program in communities like Fort Smith, but the healthcare system has been battling a recruitment crisis for years, at least partly as a consequence of a broader shortage of healthcare workers nationally.

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