Northern Lights doing well compared to other northern facilities

For years residents of Wood Buffalo have had to make trips to Edmonton for healthcare needs that can’t be fulfilled locally.

Senior Operating Officer for Northern Lights Regional Medical Centre and Willow Square Continuing Care Centre Murray Crawford, says that they are one of the few facilities in the north that isn’t having a disruption due to physician and health care worker shortages.

Crawford does note that some areas have always struggled with staff, “In particular it is our sonographers who do the ultrasounds, so that limits the amounts of ultrasounds that we can do at this facility. The other one is respiratory technicians.”

“We also have the standard ones which are for our nurses and our LPN’s and health care workers in both long term care and Northern Lights.”

He does clarify that Fort McMurray is seeing lower than average vacancy rates in its staff, but many are just getting burnt out. “Some people are just very tired of the workload that was demanded during the different waves, particularly in Fort McMurray and Northern Lights and especially in wave 3.”

Many staff members were close to retirement and chose that option and Crawford explained that they’re seeing a lot of workers choosing not to go full time and only going part-time to get a break.

As for having to drive to Edmonton for care, he clarified that they are a regional health centre, and there are some things that wouldn’t be viable to have here.

Crawford did state that there are some things they are looking to bring in for residents, “we are trying to find a child psychiatrist, we’ve actually been looking for two years, and everyone knows we have the need for, we just haven’t found the right person.”

“We’re recruiting a third orthopedic surgeon because we know there’s a need here. We’re actually also looking at a full time ophthalmologist in the next year in Fort McMurray which could save up to 4000 trips to Edmonton.”

He also mentioned that right now there isn’t enough demand to bring in a full-time urologist, but they are looking to bring someone in as a visiting urologist.

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