New Brunswick

2 hospitals temporarily close obstetrics units

Obstetrics units at the Upper River Valley Hospital and Chaleur Regional Hospital will be closed for parts of this week because of staffing shortages, according to regional health authorities.

Surgeon, nurse shortages force pregnant women to travel farther to give birth

The obstetrics unit at the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville will be closed from Wednesday at 3 p.m. and Friday at 5 p.m. (CBC)

Two New Brunswick hospitals, one in Carleton County and the other in Bathurst, are temporarily shutting down their obstetrics units this week.

There's no surgeon to cover the Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville between Wednesday at 3 p.m. and Friday at 5 p.m., Horizon Health said in a news release. 

Pregnant women who would normally go there to deliver their babies will have to travel to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton or to the Edmundston Regional Hospital, it said.

A surgeon is only needed to do emergency caesarean sections, but Horizon said the closure applies even to low-risk pregnancies because "emergency situations can quickly arise during child birth."

Anyone 35 weeks pregnant or more will be contacted by obstetrics nursing staff, said Horizon.

Not enough nurses in Bathurst

Horizon's announcement comes on the heels of a similar one from the Vitalité Health Network.

Late Monday afternoon, Vitalité announced the obstetrics unit at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst would be closed from Monday at 4 p.m. until Friday at 8 a.m. because of a nursing shortage.

Pregnant women in that area are being redirected to hospitals in Campbellton and Miramichi.

The obstetrics unit at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst is closed until Friday at 8 a.m. (Vitalité Health Network)

Vitalité said "much effort" had been devoted to finding enough nursing staff to safely provide services, "but to no avail."

"Unfortunately, this leaves us no other choice but to interrupt these services in Bathurst temporarily," said Johanne Roy, vice-president of clinical services for Vitalité.

Roy said all patients likely to give birth this week were contacted personally.

"All the necessary arrangements have been made to establish service corridors to Campbellton and Miramichi to make things go as smoothly as possible," she said.