Lack of nurses delays Stanton Hospital endoscopy service

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A shortage of nurses has delayed the return of endoscopy services to Stanton Territorial Hospital, and will force some patients to travel to out-of-town hospitals.

Endoscopy services have been unavailable since the new hospital opened in May, according to a Friday morning news release from the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.

Endoscopy is a procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract using a tubular camera called an endoscope.

In the release, Sue Cullen, CEO of the health authority, stated she hopes the service can be resumed through targeted recruitment and the hiring of temporary staff.

“Timely access to care is a priority and ensuring we have sufficient specialized staff to deliver this service is critical,” she stated.

Patients in critical need of endoscopy services may be be sent to other health centres in Alberta, Hay River or Inuvik. Other patients might need to wait until services resume at Stanton.

“These will be handled on a case-by-case basis with some deferred until endoscopy services are reinstated,” reads the statement.

The health authority stated it would work with Alberta Health Services to train more nurses. The authority also said it would aim to hire locum nurses to make up the difference while staff are training.

The announcement of the delay follows allegations of a nursing shortage and poor working conditions at the hospital.

The issue was discussed at Union of Northern Works Local 11 meeting this past Wednesday. Frank Walsh, UNW local 11 president, described it as the “one of the longest union meetings I’ve ever attended.”