Staff shortage causes midwifery reduction in Fort Smith; families sent to Yellowknife

Stanton Territorial Hospital. (File photo/CKLB)

Expecting families from Fort Smith will need to travel to Yellowknife to deliver their babies for the foreseeable future.

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority recently announced the reduction of the community’s midwifery services.

“This change is being put in place due to staffing levels and an inability to secure a continued level of two midwives who are fully oriented to the facilities and program in Fort Smith,” reads the notice.

David Maguire, NTHSSA spokesperson, said fewer than five people should be affected by the change and that they would be notified directly.

Residents coming from Fort Smith will be sent to Stanton Territorial Hospital to give birth.

Last year, the hospital’s birthing services were closed for two months due to a staff shortage.

Maguire said NTHSSA doesn’t expect the additional families coming from Fort Smith “to add any significant additional strain to Stanton’s obstetrics patient load.”

However, there is no end date for the midwifery service reduction in Fort Smith.

Below is what the NTHSSA detailed in the notice.

  • January 10 – 18: Emergency Services On-Call. Midwifery Primary Care services 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays
  • January 18 – February 1: Midwifery Primary Care services only 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays. During this period if clients require emergency care they should seek assistance through the Fort Smith Emergency Department.
  • February 1 – until further notice: Emergency Services On-Call. Midwifery Primary Care services 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays

The notice adds, “Program resumption to full services will be dependent on recruitment and orientation of Midwives to support these services.”

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.