Strike will reduce NWT health services

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The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) is preparing for the possibility of a strike and will see reduced services from primary care to mental health and rehab services, a document shows.

Some appointments under the mental health and adult services umbrella are already being rescheduled based on the urgency of clients.

Negotiations are scheduled for today and tomorrow. Barring an agreement, 4,000 workers under the Union of Northern Workers will be off the job Monday. Workers who are considered “essential” may work reduced hours and “emergency” positions are designated to work only in emergency circumstances.

Physicians and clinical staff are reviewing individual cases to minimize the impact to patients and clients. They are contacting individual clients directly to advise them of changes to booked appointments, states a GNWT document.

Clients are advised to continue to access services and attend scheduled appointments unless contacted. Here is how a strike will affect your health care access:

Primary Health Care

Hours will change for services in Fort Smith and Inuvik. All primary care in Yellowknife will be offered at the downtown clinic, where hours are also subject to change.

The Frame Lake clinic will close and patients in that clinic will be seen downtown by their usual provider unless contacted.

Mental Health and Adult Services

Expect reduced services. There are on-call services for urgent matters and all requests and referrals are being prioritized based on urgency. Booked appointments under the community counselling program are only kept for “urgent clients.”

Community Health Centre Operations

Community health centres will be open for emergency services only, including urgent and same day bookings.

Diagnostic Imaging

There will be reduced services in diagnostic imaging, with minimal impact in the inpatient and emergency departments. Urgent cases and time-sensitive testing will proceed.

All other patients will be contacted if their appointment has changed.

Laboratory Services

NTHSSA is reducing laboratory services, with minimal impact to inpatient and emergency departments. Outpatient collection services are open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Outpatient collection services at Yellowknife Primary Care Clinic will be closed.

Services not affected

NTHSSA is not adjusting services for Long Term Care, inpatient services at Stanton Territorial and the Inuvik Regional Hospital, emergency services and urgent procedures. Emergency services will be unchanged in all communities.

Child and family services for all communities will be open from 8:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on-call after hours will be available. All meetings and scheduled appointments, including client and family visits will continue as planned.

For a full list, NTHSSA has prepared a document detailing the impacts to services at a high level.

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