5 Nunavik nursing stations temporarily shut due to staffing shortage

‘No patient will be denied urgent care,’ says health board

Inuulitsivik health centre in Puvirnituq is one of five nursing stations in Nunavik that’s temporarily closed to regular services due to nursing shortages in the region. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Nursing shortages have forced Nunavik health authorities to temporarily close five health-care centres in the region this week.

On Tuesday, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services closed nursing stations in Salluit, Akulivik, Puvirnituq, Inukjuak and Kuujjuaraapik, though emergency services remain available to residents in those communities.

“No patient will be denied urgent care,” said health board spokeswoman Josee Levesque in a Thursday email to Nunatsiaq News.

“Emergency services remains available to the population.”

The centres are anticipated to stay closed for about a week, Levesque said.

Residents who require emergency services can call their local #9090 number to consult with a health-care worker over the phone. Nurses will use a triage system to assess how and when to treat the patient, the health board said.

“Please respect the nursing staff and be patient with them, they are doing their best under the current conditions,” Levesque said.

The health board did not indicate what’s behind the shortage, but health-care systems across North America are facing similar shortages due to the demand the COVID-19 pandemic has created for health-care workers.

A handful of Nunavut health centres have also seen closures or reduced services over the summer months.

Levesque said that the Inuulitsivik Health Centre, which manages health services along Nunavik’s Hudson coast, would need about 15 full-time nurses to brings its centres back up to normal staffing levels.

Levesque said the health board has made a request to Quebec’s Health Department for extra support.

The health board is also considering a centralized call centre as a pilot project, which would triage calls to the health-care system to help ease the workload of nurses.

The health board is currently trying to recruit new nurses by offering extra bonuses for summer hires, Levesque said.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics continue in Nunavik communities with the help of Red Cross staff.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Deterioration on

    This is seriously a wake up call for Nunavik leadership and authority. Covid-19 has contributed to this shortage , but Nunavik’s social issues are responsible for most of this. There’s no interest in many professionals to come work and live in Nunavik. It’s the same for many professionals, not just Nurses. Police have the same problems. It’s the dealing continuously with the intoxication and drugged society. Professionals are tired of all the demands put on them from this mess. Until the authorities, the leadership does something about the substance abuse, this will not get any better.

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  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Many regions in Canada go through a nursing/care giver shortage on a regular basis. It’s a combination of not enough people choosing the career, and many seeking employment in the U.S. or staying in the major cities.

    Other qualified people who would work in the north are out there, but they are generally located in other countries.

    Qualifications and testing are generally a provincial responsibility but Canada and the provinces need to streamline the skills testing process for overseas applicants. We also need to be able to offer citizenship on an accelerated basis to these workers to keep them in their positions in the long term.

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  3. Posted by I know on

    staff shortages are unfortunate reality in the north. Infact everywhere . Just have to remember to be happy, be a great person and help out more than usual until the wave effect is calm.

    Thank you nursing staff , really appreciate the services. You help out people in pain. Keep up the great work.

    you have to work with what you have and what is given to you.

    hats off

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  4. Posted by Tulugaq on

    The Quebec health care system is a mess and Nunavik is facing the backlash of a society that has a hard time facing systemic racism for Indigenous people. Yet, over 750000 Quebeckers are without a family doctor and the situation hasn’t improved in decades. To add insult to injury, the Quebec government is fighting the feds on jurisdiction when the feds want to address the shortfalls of the health system across the country. Finally, the province does not meet its obligations towards Nunavimmiut under the JBNQA and the Inuit leadership might want to address this failure by the province in that respect.

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