Maternity ward temporarily closed in Maria, Que., due to nursing shortage

The obstetrics department at the hospital in Maria, Que., will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday, due to a nursing shortage.

Women who go into labour will be transferred to Chandler, 130 kilometres away

The obstetrics department at the Maria Hospital will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. (Radio-Canada)

The obstetrics department at the hospital in Maria, Que., on the Gaspé peninsula, will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight this Saturday and Sunday — Mother's Day — due to a nursing shortage.  

This means women who go into labour during these hours will have to be transferred to Chandler, 130 kilometres away.

The regional health centre, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Gaspésie, said it did not have enough nurses to cover the shift.

In case of an emergency, the CISSS said there will be a doctor and nurse on hand to assist in the childbirth.

The local MNA for the Bonaventure riding, Sylvain Roy, said the closure is a symptom of the chronic staffing shortages in the region.

"Nurses are exhausted and don't want to work double shifts — and they have a right to refuse," said the Parti Québécois politician.

"That being said, management needs to find appropriate staffing, to ensure appropriate service."

Help wanted

The CISSS said the situation is temporary, and said women who show up outside these hours will have access to obstetrics services.

The recruitment website for the CISSS de la Gaspésie has several dozen jobs to fill — from midwives, to therapists, to social workers.

For the Baie-des-Chaleurs region alone, on the southern part of the peninsula, there are four nurse practitioner positions available.

Staffing shortages are also being felt elsewhere in the province.

In April, a woman in the Charlevoix region gave birth in her car on the way to Quebec City, because the hospital in La Malbaie was short-staffed.

That incident prompted health minister Danielle McCann to ask public health officials to ensure pregnant women were transferred by ambulance.

With files from Radio-Canada


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