Facing doctor shortage, Hay River walk-in clinic reduces hours

Town of Hay River
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Due to a temporary shortage of physicians in Hay River, the medical clinic will have reduced walk-in hours until May 20th.

Hay River has three full-time resident physicians, two of which had scheduled leave this month. Two locums were meant to take over from the physicians going on leave and for reasons ‘beyond the control’ of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, they cancelled their visit.

The health authority say they were not able to get replacement locums due to the Easter and spring break holidays. The ER is still open during the shortage says acting CEO Bonnie Kimble.

“The big focus has been the emergency department, to make sure we’re keeping that 24-hour service.”

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Reduced hours at the Hay River medical clinic. HRHSSA photo

The temporary shortage means there will be no walk-in clinic appointments this week and no afternoon walk-in hours for the next two weeks.

Some appointments will be available starting next week. Kimble confirms no previously booked appointments have been cancelled.

As the clinic is open sporadically, Kimble recommends patients call in the morning to check hours of operation.  The medical clinic number is 867-874-8100.

The health authority says they expect things to return to normal by May 20th.

For the time being, Kimble says people who need their prescriptions extended can go to Ring’s Pharmacy instead of the walk-in clinic.

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“The pharmacy will work with our physician. That way the physician can sit at (their) desk, go through the requests, go through the client’s charts and make sure that it’s safe for the client to receive an extended prescription.”

“They can go in to a pharmacy and get an extension on their prescriptions. That’s usually the biggest question we get, is ‘where do I go to get my prescriptions renewed?”

Doctor shortages are common, says public administrator with the authority Brian Willows, and recruitment is ongoing to relieve these pressures.

“This is an unfortunate circumstance and one that is becoming more common across Canada as it relates to having appropriate physician levels in health centers. We are always recruiting and will continue to do so.”

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