Nurse short­age closes Spir­it­wood emer­gency cen­tre

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - OPINION - ARTHUR WHITE-CRUMMEY

For the sec­ond time this month, the Spir­it­wood Col­lab­o­ra­tive Emer­gency Cen­tre will close over the week­end due to staffing short­ages.

The Prince Al­bert Park­land Health Re­gion is cur­rently try­ing to fill two nurs­ing po­si­tions at the fa­cil­ity, which is now op­er­at­ing with one full-time nurse and one part-time nurse. Spokesper­son Doug Dahl said that the last clo­sure, over Oc­to­ber 8 and 9, was en­tirely due to the low staffing lev­els. The short­age is prompt­ing a sec­ond clo­sure for Oc­to­ber 14 and 15.

It’s part of a broader pat­tern. Dahl said the health re­gion faces chal­lenges with “chronic va­can­cies in mostly ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.”

“This is not iso­lated to this health re­gion or to Saskatchewan,” he said. “One of the other chal­lenges in smaller fa­cil­i­ties and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties is that there is not a pool of ca­sual staff that can eas­ily fill va­can­cies.”

In a press re­lease, the health re­gion’s di­rec­tor of pri­mary care said they’re try­ing to fill the Spir­it­wood nurs­ing po­si­tions as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“We un­der­stand that this ser­vice dis­rup­tion is dif­fi­cult for the com­mu­nity. Our goal is to min­i­mize dis­rup­tions and con­tinue full day­time hours of op­er­a­tion at the Col­lab­o­ra­tive Emer­gency Cen­tre,” said Lau­ri­anne Te­treault.

The two po­si­tions are cur­rently posted, with ap­pli­ca­tion dead­lines this Fri­day. Any new hires may re­quire spe­cial­ized train­ing be­fore they can work alone to pro­vide emer­gency care. Ac­cord­ing to Dahl, at least one per­son has al­ready ap­plied.

Dur­ing this week­end’s clo­sure, pa­tients should call 811 for non-emer­gen­cies or 911 for emer­gen­cies, Dahl said. They can also visit the Park­land In­te­grated Health Cen­tre in Shell­brook.

The Shell­book fa­cil­ity, though, is also fac­ing staffing short­ages. Dahl said the re­gion is com­mit­ted to keep­ing the emer­gency room there open, but has had to re­duce in­pa­tient beds over the past two years. He said there are in­cen­tives in place to at­tract staff to smaller com­mu­ni­ties, but some po­si­tions re­main dif­fi­cult to fill.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive emer­gency cen­tres are in­tended to pro­vide round-the-clock pri­mary care, as well as re­fer­rals to hospi­tal for life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions. The Spir­it­wood fa­cil­ity is gen­er­ally open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

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