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Northern Health makes temporary modifications to patient care amid staffing crunch

Northern Health is adjusting services temporarily to strengthen patient care due to staffing challenges related to the spread of the Omicron-variant.

“Northern Health is proactively identifying services to be adjusted as we manage the ongoing staffing impacts on the health system, to ensure we can continue to provide safe patient care,” said Northern Health president and CEO, Cathy Ulrich.

“Existing staffing challenges in the North are compounded by Omicron-related impacts, and some staff will need to be temporarily reassigned within communities in the region, to ensure essential service levels.”

The temporary service changes include:

  • Surgical service postponements are planned or ongoing in the coming weeks at University Hospital of Northern BC-Prince George, Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton, Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers, and at Northeast BC facilities including Dawson Creek & District Hospital, impacting both surgical and ambulatory care procedures
  • Wrinch Memorial Hospital is reducing from two surgical slates to one, for the week of January 23; postponing or not booking approximately 20 procedures including scopes and dental procedures
  • Bulkley Valley District Hospital is reducing from two surgical slates to one, postponing 10-12 procedures per week between January 16 and January 29
  • In Northeast BC, Dawson Creek & District Hospital is reducing surgical bookings over the next three to four weeks
  • In long-term care, staffing at sites across the region is being monitored on a daily basis;
    Several LTC facilities in the region have paused admissions and are operating fewer beds to ensure safe provision of care within existing staffing levels
    There are temporary reductions across the NH region to adult day programs and non-urgent home health services
  • Temporary reductions across NH to outpatient ambulatory clinics, some community care services, and outpatient laboratory services in some communities
  • Situation response teams are in place to support site managers in Hazelton and Burns Lake, as both communities are experiencing staffing challenges across all facilities and services

Patients and clients affected by the changes will be contacted directly, as the health authority assesses impacts and reviews alternate options for care.

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