Labrador-Grenfell Health is struggling to recruit nurses lost to the Muskrat Falls hydro project. (CBC)

The ripple effects of the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls hydro project have spilled over into health care.

Four nurses have recently left the hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for higher-paying jobs at the Muskrat Falls work camp.

There are now 15 vacancies in the nursing department. That's left Labrador-Grenfell Health CEO Tony Wakeham scrambling to fill a big void. "We have a large vacancy. We need to fill it," he said. 

Wakeham acknowledges jobs at the new hydro mega-project pay higher hourly wages, but he says the health authority can compete with its pension plan, leave benefits and permanent, full-time positions.

"So, while the, quote, 'hourly rate,' may be lower, overall I think you have to look at the total package," he said.

Wakeham insisted health care has not been affected by the loss of nurses, but he says the sooner they can fill the vacancies, the better.

"Do we have challenges? Yes. Do we have opportunities? Yes. Do we have lots of vacancies? Yes. But we'll continue to recruit and, you know, we'll continue to post positions and fill them."