New Brunswick

11 pregnant women could go into labour during Campbellton obstetrics closure

A week-long closure of the Campbellton Regional Hospital's obstetrics and pediatric services is worrisome for families living in the area, the CEO of Vitalité Health Network says.

Obstetrics, pediatric units at Campbellton Regional Hospital will close from June 5 to 12

The obstetrics and pediatric units at the Campbellton Regional Hospital will be closed for a week due to a shortage of physician coverage. (Google Maps)

A week-long closure of the Campbellton Regional Hospital's obstetrics and pediatric services is worrisome for families living in the area, the CEO of Vitalité Health Network says.

"It's a time in their life where, of course, if you plan on delivering in a certain institution, with a certain physician, you'd like to be able to do that," said Gilles Lanteigne. 

The obstetrics and pediatric units will be closed from June 5 to 12 due to a shortage of physician coverage.

Lanteigne said one of the on-call physicians who was expected to come in and replace regular physicians at the hospital ended up not being available to work during the week.

"There's no reason why we should be maintaining services when they cannot be of quality and secure," he said.

Although the network tried to find someone who could backfill, Lanteigne said this time of year is always challenging to find backfill because there are "a lot of activities in professional development and other things."  

Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of Vitalité Health Network, says the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, about an hour away from the Campbellton Regional Hospital, will be accepting patients from the closed units for the week. (Radio-Canada)

"Most of the time we're very successful because we have a list and we're very proactive in soliciting them and making arrangements ahead of time," he said.

"But when it's the last minute, it complicates things."

Locum doctors have become so hard to find in Campbellton that the hospital there will close its obstetrical and pediatric services for a week, beginning June 5. Gilles Lanteigne is the the President and CEO of the Vitalité Health Network. He spoke with Vanessa Blanch about the closure. 8:44

11 women could be affected 

He said finding local locum coverage can be challenging for the health authority, particularly in rural areas.

"Let's say we have two or three physicians, that means they have to be on call one third of the time, or one half of the time," he said.

Lanteigne said there are 11 pregnant women in the area who could deliver their babies while the hospital's obstetrics unit is closed.

"That's the worst case scenario," he said.

Patients were told there would be an interruption in services, and the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, about an hour away from Campbellton, will be accepting patients for those units during that time.

"If there's any complication or emergency, of course we're still there in Campbellton and there's still access to ambulance services if they're required," he said.

Pediatric services will also be redirected to Bathurst, but if emergency care is needed, arrangements can also be made at the Campbellton Regional Hospital for ambulance services. 

Closures becoming more frequent 

The obstetrics unit at the Bathurst hospital was also closed for several weeks last year and early into 2019 due to a nursing shortage.  

Lanteigne said these types of closures seem to be happening more frequently. And with more staff leaving the health-care system in the next few years, he said closures could become the new normal.

He's hopeful an influx of graduates will help solve staffing shortages in years to come.

"Interruption of service seems to be more frequent, especially this year," he said.

With files from Information Morning Moncton

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.