Arviat counts 13 health-care staff, GN spokesman says

Health Department releases list of positions, days after government “trashed” over perceived lack of access to service

The Government of Nunavut released a list of health care positions in Arviat, on Thursday, after Dr. Michael Patterson vowed Monday to look into a claim the hamlet had only one nurse available. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Arviat’s health centre has a staffing complement of 13 — including 11 nurses —Nunavut’s Health Department said Thursday, four days after taking heat for a perceived lack of access to health care in the community.

The figures contradict public perceptions that services in the hamlet of 3,000 people, which has been struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak, are difficult to access.

Spokesperson Chris Puglia gave Nunatsiaq News a list of positions in Arviat’s staffing complement who are “working now and through the holidays.”

It includes four community health nurses, two public health nurses, two mental health nurses, two licensed practical nurses, a medical doctor and a health programs supervisor.

“There is also an outbreak management team virtually supporting the on-the-ground health staff,” Puglia wrote in an email he sent Thursday to Nunatsiaq News.

The territorial government provided the list after chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson faced questions during a phone-in radio show in Arviat Monday. Staffing levels were a concern to several callers, including one, who asked Patterson, “How come there is only one nurse?”

At the time, Patterson didn’t have details about the health centre’s staffing levels but he assured callers he would “ask about it and see what can be done.”

The area’s MLA, John Main, said the government was getting “trashed now on social media” over the public perception that health-care services were difficult to access. He said then he was hopeful the Health Department would be “eager” to clarify Arviat staffing levels.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Perceived shortage? on

    How many vacant PYs are there? 8 RNs for 3000 people seems awfully short staffed. How many of these are agency nurses or casuals? Department of health senior management is working late on Christmas eve to try and save face for lackluster staffing and poor treatment of nurses.

    • Posted by Dr. Thermometer on

      In the rest of Canada the ratio is 4 full time nurses plus 4 part time nurses for every 1000 Canadians. That is in addition to 1 general practioner plus 1 medical specialist for every 1000 Canadians.
      So Arviat, with a population of 3000 Canadians, should have:
      12 full time nurses
      12 part time nurses
      3 general practitioners (doctors)
      3 medical specialists (doctors)
      Time for some Arviat residents to register at Nunavut Arctic College so they can better serve their community.

  2. Posted by okay on

    “FOUR days after taking heat for a perceived lack of access to health care in the community.”
    The GN needs to stop playing with the local people. If this was available 4 days ago, it would have taken a two-minute telephone call for him to verify for the media. FOUR days is also indicative of the lack of timely quality service in the communities.

    • Posted by not amused on

      Why isn’t the Premier helping out on this? Prayers to the people who are ill during this Christmas day -especially people all over the world who can’t be with loved ones to celebrate birth of Jesus.

  3. Posted by Small town gozzip on

    Looks like a case study in the spread of gossip and misinformation in small towns…

    “Why is there only one nurse!!??” *Everyone freak out and be mad*

    Yea, actually there’s like… 11

    • Posted by Okay on

      It is not gossip from a small town. It is concrete information from people on the ground close to and affected by the problem. Do you think it will have taken four days to report back to the media if there was not a problem on the ground?

      • Posted by False News on

        So sad that the spokesperson for GN has only a list of staff that was supposed to be in Arviat not the actual number.
        So only CHNS(Community Health Nurses) can do on call not Public Health nurses,not Licensed Practical nurses ,Not the TB nurses and not Mental health nurses and last but not least the home care Nurses.
        So In last two weeks there has been only 2 full time Registered
        Nurses doing call and seeing clients.
        Why doesn’t Dr.Patterson and the Premier make a site visit?
        Then they will know the truth for sure.
        Government of Nunavut is hiding the truth and the community of Arviat will pay the price.

  4. Posted by Concerned citizen on

    I hail from Arviat. It is not gossip. The second nurse in charge, local Inuit lady, posted on social media to ‘only call for true emergencies as in reality we only have one nurse available’. This post should be in this story.

  5. Posted by Thomas Aggark on

    Rankin inlet prevents noise pollution. They prevent indoor noise reduction by building underground water system that prevents loud water tank and prevents loud water and sewer engine noise. Arviat has all those things, even the refrigerator noise is nuicance. There is no privacy from public noises like sewer and water trucks,

    • Posted by aputi on

      this is about the nurses not noise pollution lol

  6. Posted by Longtime concerned citizen on

    In the legislature thank you to our MLA who always makes a good point to ask Health about the health centre staffing. A few years back the federal governement was really concerned with what health was doing about the staffing for our health centers and the department in general but it drifted away. What happened to that and where is that accountability now and during the pandemic? Where are those followups? The last question by our MLA asked in march is on the website for the public to see and it states that Arviat is supposed to have 9 registered nurses or community nurses plus a public health nurse, not LPN. This article says 4 registered nurses plus 2 LPNs which are” licensed practical nurses “and the site for nurses here in our territory doesnt even mention LPNs in Nunavut. What does that mean? When will questions be asked in a bigger format besides the bottom of a news article? This scares me for my people. I hope there will be serious questions with serious answers and not friendly chat anymore in the legislature and with governments. We deserve better.

    • Posted by Look for the root problems on

      Yes, Nunavummiut deserve better, but whom do you want to blame? You cannot force any nurse, teacher, doctor, etc. to work in Nunavut, especially when they are treaded badly and mostly hear you are taking our jobs, you are only a transient, or just go back to the south where you belong. After all them years and endless opportunities, Nunavummiut should have started and completed their education and studies to become a Nurse for example. Blaming the GN, is just typical. It’s not their fault that no-one steps up and tries to make a difference. Learn to fish rather than complain that you don’t have enough fish

      • Posted by Interesting retention packages on

        **People don’t quit a job, the saying goes — they quit a boss** Leadership @ the GN is so mistreating -not all of them, but many- . Always trying to “seem” right instead of doing the right thing, that even such a vocational job as a nurse with the extra of an interesting retention package (money) chooses to quit their job. GN employees are not inspired, trusted, taken care of, guided or recognized by their leaders. And this is not about types of contracts (casual, permanent, contracts, etc) as there are many examples in the world -governments and multilateral organizations- where the types of contracts are also a mess, compensations packages don’t have any kind of incentives, they work in very adverse contexts (think about UN missions in conflict zones), and still employees don’t quit their jobs. It is time for a self reflection, GN.

        • Posted by Hold yourself accountable on

          Harassment of staff including nurses has never been dealt with serioulsy by the GN. They appear to be all talk and no action and then wonder why good staff leave. You can’t sweep these things under the rug and hope things will change. Nurses, educators, minorities, women, and so forth are at the bottom of the old man’s club. A club that has made even our own female Inuit leaders appear submissive in the legislature. I thought for sure a few would have been more vocal on issues that matter to the health and wellbeing of families but have been feeling rather disappointed. Someone should be pushing the GN on their enforcement of their harassment policy. How many complaints have they recieved? How many investigated? How long did it take? What level were the staff investigated? What were the outcomes? Has there been formal founded complaints and the harasser given a package? Where are they now? Leadership starts at the top. They set the tone and they are meant to take an active role not sit back and wait for things to unfold. Not blame covid for other balls being dropped across the territory.
          Look at the comments on social media and the bullying that takes place in the communities. Look at the bad mouthing of health care workers or boarding home workers on the internet. Look at the abuse some of the postal care workers have spoke out about. Look at the abuse the workers in the customer service industries are getting from customers. The reports of abuse at a certain crown corp. Respect yourselves and the people around you who are all trying to make a living to support their families. Speak up against the ill treatment of others and not just yourself.

      • Posted by Self reflection on

        Bullying and abuse of workers is unacceptable. Lack of staff is a logical consequence – there are better work environments available for southern workers. Time for locals to take education seriously and do the work themselves. Time to learn that every job has responsibilities and accountabilities to be respected – not what people would like the job to be.

  7. Posted by Longtime concerned citizen on

    I feel for nurses if they are not given the staff they are alloted. The rates of burnout across the globe is a problem and nurses deserve to have the right amount, as do the communities. This is a problem across a lot of the territory. This is a safety issue for nurses and for everyone.
    As for the comment. Who do you think holds the purse strings and shares in building self determination of Inuit across all government jobs? Perhaps think about your comments and become better understanding of self determination and the history of Inuit and Inuk nursing before making biased statements.

  8. Posted by Name withheld on

    Kivalliq Nurse recruitment is handle by Health Department which is located in Rankin Inlet office, although the Supervisor of Health Program for each community supervise the staff, the main person who decides and hire nurses for each community in the Kivalliq Region is the Director of Health Programs.

    I personally think anyone hired for the office especially if their are Registered Nurse, should have more than 10 years working in a field of nursing, attending to patients before taking office job and deciding who goes where.

    Yes Article 23 should be followed but one must have the credentials, supervisory skills with hands on training in order to serve Nunavut with high standards

  9. Posted by Jennifer on

    The bottom line is….the Inuit themselves need to assume responsibility. Eduction is an essential foundation of any community. Send your kids to school, encourage attendance and to strive for higher education ….Then we white folk from the south won’t have your jobs. The Inuit themselves can fill the positions, work and support your own communities. No more complaining …step up and stop laying blame. The GN cannot force any nurse, teacher or doctor from the south to fill the positions in Nunavut. The GN is not to blame for incentive packages or housing of staff. The Inuit need to get up and get going …in large numbers, not just a few.

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