Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Staffing pressures, impact of Omicron virus make for challenges for Northern Health

So far Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has not been among
the health care facilities in northern bc listed as having any
service reductions required owing to new COVID or staffing issues

It's a rough start to 2022 for Northern Health as the health Authority serving Northern British Columbia is realizing a number of challenges to the deliver of health care as the Omicron variant continues its march and ongoing staffing pressures leave gaps in services.

Northern health addressed those twin issues yesterday with an advisory that some termporary service adjustments will be required owing to the pressure.

"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. 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.” -- Northern Health president and CEO, Cathy Ulrich

Among some of the service changes include postponements of surgical services at a number of facilities across the Health Authority.

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 postponing or not booking approximately 20 procedures including scopes and dental procedures for the week of January 23 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.

Other areas of health care that could see service adjustments in the weeks to come: 

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.

Long Term Care facilities may also see  paused admissions and operating with fewer beds and fewer staff members.

So far, Prince Rupert has not been mentioned when it comes to postponements and other service reductions and the barometer of local health issues that is the Northern Health Prince Rupert Facebook page has not relayed much in the way of any community concern for the moment.

That forum is currently a home for discussion on the availability of vaccination shots in the community and guidance on what to do if you suspect you may have contracted the COVID virus.

Last week's Data release from the BC CDC indicated that COVID was once again on the rise in the northwest with Prince Rupert tripling its case reports from 24 to 72 in just one week ending January 12.

One indicator the province is using to watch the march of COVID is the level of hospitalization recorded that is related to COVID and as of yesterday, the Northern Health region had listed that amount as 29 hospitalized, 9 of whom are in critical care units.

There is no indication from the data however, as to where those hospitalizations are taking place.

More notes on Health Care in the region can be reviewed here.

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