Jan 18, 2022
Northern Health Adjusting Services to Strengthen Patient Safety


For Immediate Release
January 18, 2022
Northern Health adjusting services to strengthen patient safety

Northern Health is planning temporary services adjustments to strengthen patient 
care due to existing staffing challenges and Omicron related COVID-19 staffing 

“Northern Health is proactively identifying services to be adjusted as we manage the
ongoing staffing impacts on the health system, to ensure we can continue to provide 
safe patient care,” said Northern Health president and CEO, Cathy Ulrich. “Existing 
staffing challenges in the North are compounded by Omicron-related impacts, and 
some staff will need to be temporarily reassigned within communities in the region, 
to ensure essential service levels.” 
The temporary service changes include:

     * Surgical service postponements are planned or ongoing in the coming weeks 
        at University Hospital of Northern BC-Prince George, Wrinch Memorial 
        Hospital in Hazelton, Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers, and at 
        Northeast BC facilities including Dawson Creek & District Hospital, impacting 
        both surgical and ambulatory care procedures
             o Wrinch Memorial Hospital is reducing from two surgical slates to one, 
                for the week of January 23; postponing or not booking approximately 
                20 procedures including scopes and dental procedures
             o Bulkley Valley District Hospital is reducing from two surgical slates to 
                one, postponing 10-12 procedures per week between January 16 and 
                January 29
             o In Northeast BC, Dawson Creek & District Hospital is reducing surgical 
                bookings over the next three to four weeks

      * In long-term care, staffing at sites across the region is being monitored on a 
        daily basis; 
             o Several LTC facilities in the region have paused admissions and are 
                operating fewer beds to ensure safe provision of care within existing 
                staffing levels
             o There are temporary reductions across the NH region to adult day 
                programs and non-urgent home health services

     * Temporary reductions across NH to outpatient ambulatory clinics, some 
         community care services, and outpatient laboratory services in some 

     * Situation response teams are in place to support site managers in Hazelton 
         and Burns Lake, as both communities are experiencing staffing challenges 
         across all facilities and services 

Patients and clients affected by service level changes will be contacted directly, as 
Northern Health assesses impacts and reviews alternate options for care. NH is 
focused on and committed to restoring service levels in every community as soon as 
possible, as rates of staff absences due to illness decline, and ongoing recruitment 
efforts succeed in filling existing vacancies.
“The pandemic has placed inordinate pressure on health care workers in Northern 
Health across all service areas, but we have also seen innovation and creativity in 
addressing these challenges,” said Ulrich. “I thank everyone working in health care 
in Northern BC for their extraordinary commitment and dedication to the health and wellbeing of northerners.” 
Northern Health continues to engage with local leaders, partners and communities to answer questions and work together through this challenging time.
Regular community updates can be found here:

Media Contact: NH media line – 250-961-7724

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