The community of Spiritwood will see a return to fuller emergency health care as of Saturday. They’ll have been without weekend service for twelve weeks because of a nurse shortage.
Tracie Davies, the manager of community development and primary care said they've now added to their crew.
“We had a registered nurse go on maternity leave and we have been able to recruit a temporary full-time nurse. We’re fortunate she’ll be moving into the community,” Davies said.
The Collaborative Emergency Centre (CEC) will resume weekend hours from Saturday bringing it back to a seven-days-a-week, operating from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Davies said the community around Spiritwood was anxious without weekend care since mid-October.
“I know a few had been questioning ‘how much longer’,” she said. “[People were] nervous going through Christmas and the holidays without the weekends. I believe the community will be happy to have it back and open.”
Davies was unable to say how many patients requiring emergency care would have been diverted during the weekend closure as those cases are handled by the ambulance service. Most patients would have been taken to Shellbrook, she said.
Rural Canada faces constant health care recruitment challenges, but Davies suggested in this case not having a 24/7 facility probably helped them secure the much-needed recruit.
“It was easier than I expected… but at the same time we’re only day-time with twelve hours shifts” she said. “It’s a nice start for someone wanting to work in an emergency setting.”
That work-life balance for potential employees may also have helped fill the CEC’s vacancy for a third full-time physician. Davies said they were close to signing someone up.
“We have an offer given to a physician right now; we’re just waiting to hear back,” she said.
The Spiritwood Collaborative Emergency Centre currently has a staffing complement of two full-time physicians and three full-time nurse practitioners.
In a statement Brett Enns, the local executive transition lead for primary care thanked the community for their patience and understanding during the weekend closures. It read in part, “we will continue to work with the community in an effort to ensure we have stable staffing and reduce the risk of any further disruptions.”
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