Due to a shortage of nurses trained in conducting endoscopies, the service is still closed at the new Stanton Territorial Hospital.
The hospital does the majority of the territory’s endoscopies, a procedure where a tube with a light and camera attached is used to look at a person’s digestive tract.
The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority says a shortage happened as staff moved from the endoscopy program to other ‘opportunities’ in the health system.
“Nurses supporting the delivery of this service require specialized skills and a recent shortage of these nurses has led to Stanton’s temporary inability to deliver this service,” the health authority stated. They are now sending nurses down to the Alberta Health Service for training and working on hiring locum nurses to do endoscopies while the local nurses are in training.
“The NTHSSA is working hard to look at all options to resume endoscopy services at Stanton Territorial Hospital, this includes working to immediately increase capacity through staff training, targeted recruitment activities, and looking at alternative staffing options such as temporary locum staff,” says CEO of the health authority Sue Cullen.
Depending on how urgently people need the procedure done, they may be referred to Alberta. People needing the procedure as soon as possible or within a few days or weeks are being sent to Alberta if appropriate. The cases the health authority deems non-urgent or elective are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis – some may be transferred to Alberta, others to Hay River or Inuvik and some may be deferred.