Two rural community health centres are currently experiencing “temporary service reductions,” according to the territorial government.
In a statement released June 10, Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee is warning that some community health centres in the territory could see reduced services in the coming months as a result of pressures on community nursing staff and agency nursing groups.
The statement attributes the service interruptions to a local, national and worldwide shortage of health-care providers that is being felt across the Yukon due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nurses are an integral part of Yukon communities and have given so much of themselves throughout the pandemic to help keep us safe. We must support their wellness,” McPhee said in the statement.
“Health-care provider burnout is a real and pressing issue here at home and around the world. We value the nurses and other health-care providers who choose to serve our communities and are making sure they get the break they need so that they choose to continue serving Yukon communities in the long-term.”
Service disruptions will occur at the Carcross Health Centre from June 13 to 22. According to the government’s website, it will be open for emergencies only from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Carcross clients are being asked to call 867-821-4444 or 9-1-1 in case of emergency.
Services will be disrupted at the Ross River Health Centre between June 10 and 20. The centre will be closed from June 14 to 20. Ross River clients can call 867-969-4444 or 9-1-1 in case of emergency.
The Yukon Health Line can be reached 24/7 for advice and support for non-emergency issues at 8-1-1.
“We are working with communities, community nursing and interagency partners to address these challenges and mitigate service reductions,” reads the minister’s statement.
Staffing challenges in February previously led to temporary closures of rural health centres in Carcross and Teslin.
In a June 9 Facebook post, the Yukon Registered Nurses Association (YRNA) said the pandemic has “added considerable stress” — both mental and physical — for health-care professionals working in an “already stressful” profession.
“YRNA believes that patient safety and public protection depends on ensuring that their healthcare professionals are themselves healthy and able to practice safely,” reads the post.
The YRNA is an independent, non-political regulatory body and professional group for registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the territory. It is currently offering free mental health and wellness support for nurse practitioners and registered nurses and their families.
The association’s CEO Jerome Marburg said by phone on June 13 the minister’s statement is unrelated to the YRNA’s recent post. Marburg suggested the timing is likely coincidental.
“But I think there’s a link to the fact that the health system is stretched from the pandemic and beyond,” he said.
“Everybody has been putting in massive hours — the mass amount of work keeping the public safe — for which I think few people would recognize just the toll it’s taken on health-care professionals across the board.”
Contact Dana Hatherly at email@example.com