Despite significant effort, Island Health was not able to fill a nursing shift required to staff the Port Alice Health Centre on Saturday (Nov. 7).
Due to this, the Port Alice Health Centre was closed on Nov. 7 and re-opened for normal hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Sunday (Nov. 8).
Whenever the Port Alice Health Centre is closed, “In the event of a medical emergency, residents are advised to call 911 or proceed to the Port McNeill or Port Hardy Hospital,” stated Island Health. “Confidential health information and advice from a registered nurse is available toll free, 24/7 by calling HealthLink BC at 811.”
Island Health acknowledged this is not an ideal situation for the community and sincerely apologized for any inconvenience.
The situation follows on the heels of a similar situation in Port McNeill during the Halloween weekend, where some last-minute juggling manged to narrowly avoid a situation that would have seen Port McNeill patients diverted to Port Hardy.
A worker noted at that time the issue of nurse shortages is a serious one for the North Island.
“We’ve been having an ongoing issue with hiring and keeping nurses here, and for years now we’ve had agency nurses who come in temporarily, but they’re very expensive, they have to be put up in housing and given a car rental, and they fill in for a few weeks but they don’t know the community.”
The worker added the nurse shortage issue was actually caused by two agency nurses cancelling at the last minute, and then pointed out that burnout is the real factor as to why nurse retention is so low in the North Island.
“They [nurses] are understaffed, over busy, they don’t get their breaks, don’t get to eat their lunches, don’t get to go to the bathroom, they get tired, and then they either quit or leave or go part time and the problem just gets worse and worse.”