Hospital sees ongoing staff shortages

Cariboo Memorial Hospital is experiencing staff shortages across some of its departments.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital is experiencing staff shortages across some of its departments.

But despite those shortages, says Allison Ruault, acute health services administrator for Cariboo Memorial Hospital, medical services by all accounts are continuing as usual.

Ruault was before council Tuesday night outlining some of the challenges at CMH and later spoke to the Tribune.

The hospital’s acute-care department is facing what she termed “ongoing issues” related to the staffing of nurses. In the last few years, the hospital has successfully recruited new grads from the Thompson Rivers University nursing program and utilized student nurses (third-year students).

Ruault noted the trend recently has been to hire younger nurses who now may be creating vacancies as they depart on maternity leave.

“We are always monitoring within nursing what our staffing sitution is and looking ahead to see our best estimate around how many nurses we are going to need,” Ruault said.

The hospital has been without a physiotherapist for that last three years and Ruault says that’s indicative of a world- and Canada-wide trend.

For now, CMH is utilizing community physiotherapists in concert with an expanded role for the rehabilitation assistant in order to meet the needs of patients at the hospital. Ruault says that program is working “well enough” but added the hospital would like to secure an in-house physiotherapist.

CMH’s one ultrasound technologist — down from two — is managing the work load and Ruault gave assurances that if people need an ultrasound on an urgent basis they will get the service.

“Others may have to wait a little bit but our wait times for ultrasound aren’t close to what some of the bigger communities are,” she said.

Staffing challenges presented by the summer months have caused the lab to make some adjustments but Ruault noted the public shouldn’t notice a change in service.

The retention of physicians was also described as an “ongoing issue.”

Two or three general practitioners will be coming to Williams Lake in the coming months. The hospital is also seeking a pediatrician.

To address staffing issues the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District offered a grant of up to $15,000 for a recruitment/planning project.

“We want to come up with a specific recruitment strategy for Williams Lake and 100 Mile House to look at how to recruit physicians and other health professionals to the community,” Ruault said.

“There are shortages worldwide and province wide and we always compete from community to community in terms of getting people here and what we can offer and highlight and showcase.”

Construction of Deni House was reported as “well underway” as is the planning for resident programming and staffing. A closed circuit TV system will be installed at the hospital by the end of the year.

Staff are also being trained to manage violent situations as part of a program that’s being rolled out authority wide. The hospital’s master site plan is expected to be completed by mid-July.