General surgeries on pause in Fort St. John until August

Fort St. John will be without a general surgeon for the month of July.

Dr. Francois Coetzer began a six-week holiday beginning Canada Day and is expected to return August 11.

Northern Health says it was unable to recruit a locum surgeon to cover the operating room at the Fort St. John Hospital, but adds that it will have a pair of visiting specialists in for the month of July to help trim wait lists.

“For this time, we were unable to find a locum general surgeon,” said Jonathon Dyck, communications officer for Northern Health.

“However, we do have other types of surgery coming in, or people in the community who are locals and we’re expanding their time in the operating room that’s available.”

In particular, Dyck says the hospital will have an ophthalmologist and orthopedic surgeon to reduce wait lists in those areas.

The hospital will also have more time for gynecological services, and dentists who perform services in the operating room, Dyck said.

However, any one with emergency or general surgery needs will be be sent to other hospitals in the region, such as Dawson Creek, Prince George, or even Grande Prairie.

“We work very closely with the other hospitals in the area,” Dyck said.

“It always depends on the patient’s level of acuity. We’ll work with the other hospitals available to make sure that the services are available as appropriate.”

Fort St. John was left with only one general surgeon earlier this year after Dr. Jan Klompje left for what officials say were family reasons.

Northern Health is currently recruiting for both a permanent and locum general surgeon.

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