Hay River's health centre. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Hay River residents will have only “intermittent” access to a doctor this summer, territorial health authorities announced on Wednesday.
In a statement, the NWT government said “physician coverage between July and September is not guaranteed.” When there is no doctor, patients will be helped by nurses or telehealth.
“In cases where escalation of care or physician services are required, patients may be moved for care,” the NWT’s health authority stated, promising work to recruit more doctors is ongoing.
Meanwhile, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services at Yellowknife’s primary care centre will close from June 27 until September 5.
“Staffing this service has been an ongoing issue,” said the health authority. “Constant, intermittent closures have added frustration for staff, providers, and patients. During this extended closure, the focus will be on assessing our service model and staff recruitment.”
The authority said staffing levels “across the entire health and social services system are strained” and the NWT is struggling to attract anyone, even on a temporary basis, to fill the gaps.
“Residents will be provided notice of service changes with as much advance notice possible,” the authority stated.
“In the event of service reductions or closures, residents will continue to have access to care through the NWT’s medical travel and MedResponse system to ensure those who need urgent and emergent care are able to access it in the nearest community to their home.”
According to the health authority’s service status page, a quarter of the 32 communities listed are currently experiencing some form of service reduction.