5 Nunavik nursing stations temporarily shut due to staffing shortage
‘No patient will be denied urgent care,’ says health board
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.