While patients and staff make their big move to the new hospital tomorrow, the staffing roster isn’t quite complete.
“Admittedly we do have some vacancies, particularly with some of the professionals,” said Betty Morris, Northern Health’s Chief Operating Officer for the Northeast.
She noted that the new hospital is lacking registered nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
“They’re very difficult to recruit and we, like every community in this province, and outside of this province, compete for those folks,” said Morris.
She said the future for staff isn’t grim.
“We are hoping – and I’m optimistic – we are hoping that just being able to work in a brand new facility…will get people to come and really experience (the new hospital),” Morris said.
Angela De Smit, North Peace Health Service Administrator, said they are also lacking staff in medical laboratory technology and imaging technology, formerly referred to as x-ray technicians.
De Smit said they have been working with the Northern Health Authority’s recruitment team to bring staff to Fort St. John.
“There’s been lots of blogs; there’s been lots of tweets that have been going out,” she said. “We’ve got a recruitment information package.”
She also noted that they’ve got postings listed on Northern Health’s website.
“They’ve (recruiters) been blitzing it at the various recruitment fairs that they’ve been showcasing at and showcasing what a great facility this is going to be in the north,” said De Smit.
While staffing shortages exist, De Smit said they will be “tailoring” their services “just like we do on a regular basis depending on the staff and on the staff availability.”
In an earlier interview, Northern Health’s communications officer Jonathan Dyck said that the new hospital was scheduled to create more than 50 part and full-time positions.
In the most recent report, the Northeast is sitting at about a four per cent unemployment rate. This has created a worker shortage throughout the Peace Region in a variety of jobs.
Earlier this year the North Peace Economic Development Commission completed an impact study that highlighted this worker shortage.
Annette Jones, Employment Connections Program Coordinator, noted that each and every sector is searching for staff in this region.
“When you’re looking at the more specialized jobs and the more highly skilled ones, it’s always difficult for employers to fill,” said Jones in an earlier Alaska Highway News interview.
While not specifically looking at medical staff, the results translate to the new hospital.
While they are struggling to fill those 50, Morris said doctors are not part of this shortage.
“In Fort St. John, we do enjoy quite a good roster of medical physicians,”said Morris.
Though it’s a challenge to find staff, people in the Fort St. John do not have to worry about finding a doctor.
“We have a shortage in some disciplines, but we’re pretty well-physicianed (sic) in this area.”
With files from Brianne Zwambag