Doctor, nurse shortages forcing rural hospitals to suspend services
Some hospitals in rural Saskatchewan are suspending services as they try to cope with the ongoing shortage of nurses and doctors.
The town of Kamsack in the east-central part of the province is the latest in a series of small communities that have been forced to restrict hours for some services.
This week, the Sunrise Health Region has had to close the emergency department and outpatient services at the Kamsack hospital between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. for three daysbecause there wasn't a doctor available.
Roberta Wiwcharuk, a director of client services with the Sunrise Health Region, said the region is trying to recruit at least one more doctor and is hopeful.
"But it definitely is a challenge and I think it will be an ongoing challenge, not just for Kamsack but for a lot of rural centres," she said.
The community of Central Butte, 100 kilometres northwest of Moose Jaw, is having similar problems. Acute hospital services have been suspended therebecause of a shortage of registered nurses.
The Five Hills Health Region said it needs two more nurses to staff the various shifts.
Travel for care
Until then, acute care services will remain on hold.
Meanwhile, in the town of Spiritwood, northeast of North Battleford, residents will have to travel if they need emergency medical care this weekend.
Neither of the town's two doctors will be at the hospital until Monday morning. That means people will have to take an ambulance to hospitals in Shellbrook, Prince Albert or Saskatoon that are an hour away or more.
Thedoctors "indicated that they're not able to work this weekend. It's due to them being tired and needing a break," said Doug Dahl, a spokesman with the Prince Albert Health Region.
"And that's not a surprise to anybody who's in the region. We had hoped that we would be able to get physician coverage for this weekend, but we haven't been."
Therehad beenthree doctors in Spiritwood until August, when one of them quit. The health region is trying to find another physician.