Service reductions at Stanton OR until next year as nursing shortage continues to plague N.W.T.

A shortage of health-care workers, especially nurses, continues to affect health services in the Northwest Territories.

Operating room services at Stanton Territorial Hospital are expected to remain at half capacity until Jan. 3

Stanton Territorial Hospital in September 2019. Reductions in services at the hospital's operating room have been extended until January, 2023. (Katherine Barton/CBC)

A shortage of health-care workers — especially of nurses — continues to affect health services in the Northwest Territories.

In a press release Wednesday, the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority announced an extension of reduced services at Stanton Territorial Hospital's operating room. Those reductions, introduced in July, will now continue through to next year — Jan. 3, 2023.

Stanton's operating rooms will operate at half capacity during that time. The health authority says operations are not being cancelled, but non-urgent surgeries may have "longer wait times than normal." Emergency and cancer-related surgeries should not be affected.

In the Sahtu region, three health centres will only offer emergency services during most of August:

  • In Tulita the Harriet Gladue Health Centre will be on reduced services Aug. 8 through Aug. 31.
  • In Norman Wells the Sahtu Got'ine Regional Health and Social Services Centre will be on reduced services Aug. 2 through Aug. 31.
  • In Fort Good Hope the Cassien Edgi Health Centre will be on reduced services from Aug. 2 through Sept. 11. 

Emergency and urgent care will remain in all three communities.

And in Behchokǫ̀, midwifery services are only available on a limited basis until October.

Heads of the territory's regional health boards have described the staffing shortage and subsequent reductions in service as a "critical situation," and the territorial government has launched a task force to find short-term solutions.

The territorial minister of health has said the current shortage is exacerbated by the legitimate need for overworked medical staff to find time off during the summer.