We would like to share what information we have about possible changes in health care on Haida Gwaii, and how we are working together to respond.
The staffing shortages affecting clinics and hospitals across the country have come to Haida Gwaii. The ongoing toll of COVID, an aging population (and workforce) and increasing complexity of care has placed huge stress on existing staff and has made replacing departing staff very difficult. As with every other health care facility in Canada, there is increasing reliance on a limited supply of temporary workers such as travel nurses.
Staff shortages are most acute at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital (NHGH), in Gaw (Masset). Northern Health’s local and regional administrators, nurses, and physicians are working together on ways to provide the best possible care under various staffing scenarios. We are working to get the exact details right and share them as soon as possible.
It is likely that the NHGH will be unable to admit patients to hospital for periods of time. This would result in patients being transferred to the Haida Gwaii Hospital in Daajing Giids or off island. If there is an even greater staff shortage, NHGH may have to close its emergency room overnight. The priority will be to continue to have on-call nurses and physicians that can help ambulance to stabilize critical patients locally before they are transfered out of community. There may also be longer wait times for an ambulance as we anticipate more transfers between hospitals.
What can you do?
First, please use after-hours emergency services only for truly urgent issues that cannot wait until morning. Each hospital has the most staff during daytime hours and there will be additional access then for those needing to be seen urgently.
The Northern Health Virtual Clinic also provides access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner between the hours of 10am to 10pm, and can be reached at 1-844-645-7811.
The First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day enables First Nations people to access a doctor 7-days a week, from 8:30am to 4:30pm. This service can be reached at 1-855-344-3800.
You can 811 to speak with a nurse is available 24/7 to offer advice for any health problem, and to help you decide how urgent your issue may be.
Finally, we urge the public to be patient and kind. We are all feeling the stresses of the situation. Let’s focus our collective energies towards initiatives that will help us recruit and retain health care providers and strengthen our communal safety net. We need your help.
– The Physicians of Haida Gwaii