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IH working to solve staff shortage in Nakusp

Incentives being offered to attract hospital recruits

Officials at Interior Health say they’re trying to find solutions to the problem that forced the closure of the Arrow Lakes Hospital emergency ward in Nakusp last weekend.

They say a staff shortage prompted officials to close the ward Sunday, Sept. 1, from 7 a.m. to about 3 p.m.

“We do have challenges with permanent staffing at Arrow Lakes Hospital right now, with two permanent vacancies and a third staff member on unexpected leave,” says Suzanne Lee, the community health services administrator for IH. “As a result of these challenges, we were unable to find a staff member to fill a portion of a shift last weekend.”

Lee says the hospital assessed one patient on Sunday, who was diverted to an another health facility. They also redirected two patients who called ALH to alternate facilities.

And Lee says despite their efforts to find new staff, the problem may happen again.

“Staffing challenges may result in temporary interruptions to service until we hire additional staff, but we are doing everything possible to avoid this,” she wrote in a statement to Arrow Lakes News. “Including bringing in nurses from other communities and using contracted agency nurses.”

Lee says Interior Health is “fully committed” to providing to 24/7 service in Nakusp. She says IH is actively recruiting to fill two permanent emergency department RNs and an additional casual RN, who is called in to support shifts as needed.

The people in charge of the delivery of medical services in the community say they’re trying to sweeten the pot to attract staff to Nakusp.

“The RN emergency department positions include incentives such as a rural retention grant and potential for provincial/federal loan forgiveness programs,” she says.

These positions have been posted to the IH website and various other job boards and schools.

“Our recruitment team also highlights nursing opportunities from across IH, including Nakusp, on national websites and at national conferences each year,” she says. “Nakusp is a great place to live and work, and we have had some interest in our current job postings, but nothing confirmed as yet.”