Northern Health responding to lengthy ultrasound waits in Fort St. John

The Fort St. John Hospital. File photo.

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Officials with Northern Health say that while wait times to get an ultrasound in Fort St. John have increased recently, the health authority is hoping to reduce those wait times with additional staff.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins said that wait times to get a routine ultrasound at the Fort St. John Hospital are currently averaging around four months. Collins explained that the hospital’s imaging department has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of ultrasounds performed compared to five years ago. She also said that the health authority has experienced shortages of certified sonographers, something she added is a province-wide issue.

Collins said that to help with the staff shortage, Northern Health has recently recruited a sonographer to Fort St. John, though she was not able to provide their start date because of how recently they were recruited. She also said that Northern Health is looking to confirm more locum coverage for ultrasounds in the near future.

When asked about the reason for the increase in ultrasound appointments, Collins said that health officials are seeing an increase in demand for all forms of medical imaging including MRI scans, CT scans, and ultrasounds. She said that as demand is increasing, post-secondary institutions such as BCIT and the College of New Caledonia are either increasing or launching sonography programs.