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Chief of Staff Feels Supported by Interior Health as Efforts Underway to Restore Maternity Services at CMH

It’s a community based all hands on deck recruitment effort according to the Chief of Staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

Interior Health held a media teleconference today on the hospital’s maternity ward that has been temporarily closed due to an unexpected shortage of specialized nurses.

“Initially the reaction was obviously very difficult to accept and there was some angst and anxiety over the closure,” Dr. Paul Magnuson said.

“What I can say and it speaks to the resiliency to the people in the Cariboo and the workers at the hospital both the nursing staff and the physicians in our fine community, is at this point they are not being part of the problem. They’re being part of the solution and are offering to be involved in whatever way they can to support the situation.”

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Dr. Magnuson said they’re supportive of the administrative staff who are working tirelessly to recruit, retain, and to bring in interim nursing to fix the problem quickly.

“They’re supportive of physician leadership and they’re very supportive of the remaining core of maternity nurses who are making themselves available for the one per shift right now which is setup,” he adds.

“I’m feeling supported by IH and all levels of it so I think it’s not something where our concerns are being ignored or put on the back burner. I think it’s at the forefront at everyone’s mind and I feel very encouraged even though it’s a heartfelt, gutwrenching situation. In a lot of respects, I think, for the most part, I feel encouraged for the future.”

Vice President of Clinical Operations for IH North, Karen Bloemink said an on-call function and obstetrical clinic that provides prenatal care to expectant mothers is continuing, and that it’s the 24 hour, 7-day week reliable delivery service that they have not been able to sustain.

“Recruitment for specialized nursing staff is an ongoing challenge throughout the health authority all the time so we plan on our baseline to recruit and train nurses that have the required specialized skills,” Bloemink said.

“For an important service like obstetrics, recruitment has been underway for Cariboo Memorial Hospital over the last year or so, and that includes in both British Columbia, across Canada, and internationally. In addition to that formalized recruitment, we initiated a new cohort of training for perinatal nurses that started this past January as part of our staff and maintenance for this specialized skillset.”

“What we hadn’t planned for was two unexpected vacancies that were not planned for so it’s unfortunate,” Bloemink continued.

“We hope that this situation will be rectified very quickly and we are taking steps right now to ensure that we can restore the service at Cariboo Memorial Hospital as soon as possible.”

Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital is expected to have the capacity to sustain the transfers that are coming out of Williams Lake, and Bloemink said they do not have existing staffing vacancies there and do not expect to have any in the near future.

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