Nursing shortages lead Canmore hospital to close obstetrics on weekends

Canmore General Hospital admissions desk and lobby. Alberta Government

The operating room at Canmore General Hospital is shutting down on weekends due to a shortage of nurses.

“This OR closure means our obstetrical team will be unable to provide Cesarean section coverage, and as such, we will need to divert all obstetrical patients to Calgary during the weekend from Friday afternoon until Monday morning,” Mountain Maternity and Family Medicine said in a statement.

That means pregnant patients will have to make the hour-long drive into a Calgary hospital.

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The maternity clinic said it was a “temporary” measure expected to last until March 27 and it is still able to provide full services at the Canmore hospital on weekdays.

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“To ensure patient safety, we ask all patients to proceed to Foothills Hospital for any of their concerns,” Mountain Maternity said. “Because of EMS difficulties and shortages, presenting to Canmore Hospital first may only delay appropriate care.”

According to the Alberta Health Services website, no other hospitals in the Calgary zone were experiencing temporary service disruptions as of Friday. But 34 sites across the province were experiencing service disruptions, seven of which impacted obstetrics:

  • Canmore General Hospital will “divert obstetrics patients” from Feb. 3 at 4:30 p.m. until Monday Feb. 6 at 7 a.m., with that expected to continue until March 27.
  • Three Hills Health Centre will “temporarily have no obstetrical services on site” from Dec. 16, 2021, to Feb. 25, 2023.
  • Myron Thompson Health Centre in Sundre, Alta., will have no obstetrical services on site due to “temporary physician shortage” from April 6, 2020, to March 1.
  • W.J. Cadzow Healthcare Centre in Lac La Biche, Alta., will have no obstetrical or C-section services due to “temporary physician shortage” starting Jan. 20 and no anticipated end date.
  • Westlock Healthcare Centre has no obstetrics on site due to a “temporary staff shortage” from Sept. 29, 2022 to March 6.
  • Barrhead Healthcare Centre has no anesthesia coverage for surgery and C-sections due to “temporary physician shortage” from Jan. 26 to Feb. 28, except for Feb. 7 and Feb. 14.
  • Edson Healthcare Centre has a “temporary disruption in obstetrics,” restricting deliveries to only those that do not require C-section backup, from Feb. 2 to Feb. 5.
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The Canmore maternity clinic is asking any OR or obstetrics nurses who are able and willing to work on weekends to reach out to the Canmore General Hospital or Mountain Maternity and Family Medicine.

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“We want the best for our patients, and we understand that many of our patients specifically choose Mountain Maternity and Canmore Hospital because of our unique atmosphere,” the clinic added. “We do not want this outcome for our patients, and we are sorry that the stresses to the health-care system have prompted this.”

Read more: UPDATE: Tofield E.R. to remain closed overnight until April because of staffing shortage

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