Stanton hospital reduces birth unit to emergencies only due to staff shortage

Stanton Territorial Hospital. (CKLB file photo)

Families that are expecting to have a baby in the next three months in Yellowknife will now need to go to Edmonton.

On Monday afternoon, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority announced it would be reducing birth services to emergencies only at Stanton Territorial Hospital due to staff shortage.

“Staffing challenges, particularly nursing, during this time period mean that Stanton is not able to ensure adequate personnel to operate the full volume of birthing services in a safe manner,” reads a news release.

Anyone that is due between Dec. 10 and Feb. 21 will be sent to Edmonton during their 37th week of pregnancy. They can expect to stay for three to five weeks.

NTHSSA says all medical travel supports will be provided to those affected, including lodging and they will be automatically approved to have a single medical escort.

Health care providers are now informing expecting patients, with priority given to those with due dates closest to Dec. 10.

We recognize this news will likely come as a shock and understand that individuals will likely
have many questions,” reads a Q&A on the decision. “
We encourage people to wait for their direct contact as opposed to contacting their primary care provider because the team dedicated to making the notification calls will have the latest information and be able to answer questions that your regular provider may not at this time.”

COVID vaccination required to fly

As of Oct. 30, anyone wanting to fly needs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There’s been a transition period between Oct. 30 and Nov. 30 that allows people to travel with proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

However, that will no long be the case after Nov. 30. It’s not clear what will happen after this date.

NTHSSA is working to determine what the process will be for anyone travelling after November
30th and will provide more information when this is clear,” reads the Q&A.

No changes outside Yellowknife

Despite the significant reduction at Stanton, the NTHSSA says services outside of Yellowknife will not change.

That includes scheduled births in Inuvik, as well as midwifery programs in Fort Smith and Hay River.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis has been a general news reporter with CKLB since January 2019. Originally from rural Ontario, he first came to the NWT in 2016 as an intern with Up Here magazine and fell in love with the North. In his time with CKLB, he's had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures. Otherwise, you can find him hanging around the Legislative Assembly. If you have a story or want to chat, reach out to francis@cklbradio.com